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Credit: WM Media Room

For all the years I’ve worked in the recycling business for Waste Management, I can tell you that the global challenges our industry is facing these days are without precedent.

Simply put, many of the items we all want to recycle are getting hard to market economically. This impacts our business, the environment and the recycling industry as a whole.

Today, the average contamination rate among communities and businesses sits at around 25%. That means that roughly 1 in 4 items placed in a recycling container is actually not recyclable through curbside programs, and this creates enormous problems for the recycling economy.

Read the full article and find out more about the problems for the recycling economy here.

By Brent Bell for Waste Management Media Room.

 

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Company wants to collect, recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging it puts out by 2030 Coca-Cola wants to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging it puts out into the world by 2030. Coca-Cola wants to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging it puts out into the world by 2030. PHOTO: ANTHONY DEVLIN/ZUMA PRESS

Company wants to collect, recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging it puts out by 2030

Coca-Cola Co., long criticized by environmental advocates for producing billions of plastic bottles that end up in landfills and oceans, said it wants to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the packaging it puts out into the world by 2030.

The goal is part of a sustainability initiative announced by the soda company called “World Without Waste.” Coca-Cola said Friday that its efforts will include investing in more efficient packaging, local recycling programs and consumer education. It declined to say how much it will spend as part of the effort.

Read the full article on Coca-Cola’s commitment here.

By Cara Lombardo for The Wall Street Journal.

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On December 20, 2017, the sustainability team at PATA held a waste management workshop for PATA staff at PATA headquarters. We invited Gili Back, Sustainability Manager at Khiri Travel, as guest speaker to share best practice examples for waste management in a business environment here in Bangkok.

We kicked off the lunch with a delicious lunch from The Lunch Box, initiated and run by Gili Back. To reduce packaging waste from individual servings, we had a buffet-style lunch, served in reusable serving bowls with reusable plates and cutlery. Making a conscious choice about the food we served, we tried three different vegan lunch options, and encouraged PATA staff to try a dietary shift while thinking about the ingredients in our food and the impact eating meat makes on our environment.

   
Gili shared recycling practices and alternatives to single use disposable plastic that are available here in Thailand. She shared helpful tips for how to be more sustainable not only in the office but also at home. Gili then provided insights about how to correctly separate and recycle at the source, such as encouraging everyone to reduce and ultimately avoid plastic use by saying no to single use plastic straws and plastic bags. Gili explained the differences between recycling, composting, and disposal for a better understanding of waste separating practices. She also addressed common misconceptions about bioplastics, such as that bio based plastics are always biodegradable, and fossil-based plastics are never biodegradable or compostable.

Veronika, PATA’s Sustainability & Social Responsibility Associate then shared some astounding facts about waste in Bangkok. Did you know that Bangkokians use 8.1 million plastic bags per day? Learning this, we aim to do our part to improve our sustainability efforts at PATA by introducing new waste separation guidelines.

To put our new knowledge into practice, everyone participated in a fun team activity. Teams raced to correctly separate a bag filled with different types of waste from the office.

   
The winning team explained how they separated their waste to the other teams. We also discussed items that some teams weren’t sure how to categorise. Everyone received a reusable tumbler/water bottle carry bag as prize and was invited to personalise it. We then took our newly separated and repurposed it to create beautiful decorations for this holiday season.

   
   
Following this workshop, we introduced new colour-coded bins that are now in in office pantry to help everyone separate and recycling waste correctly in the future.

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Bangkok’s Fight Against Plastic Waste

Categories: Blog Posts, Southeast, Waste
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by Juliane Little, Account Executive, Precious Plastics Bangkok

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that plastic doesn’t actually decompose? Over time it’ll start to break down into smaller pieces called microplastics; however, it’ll never fully be removed from our planet.

So how do we expect to tackle this ever-growing issue about plastic waste? While there is no short or easy answer, there are steps we can begin to take towards a brighter, better future.

Let me first introduce myself… My name is Juliane Little and I’m an expat, who has lived in Thailand for just over 2 years now. It was my love for adventure, the ocean, and beauty that brought me all the way from the USA to this beautiful country. Within a short few months, I started to notice there is a huge issue with plastic consumption and recycling in Thailand. This plastic waste comes in all shapes and sizes and is used by teachers, construction workers, people on holiday and even by myself.

Plastic is the ultimate convenience. It’s cheap to make and buy, it’s extremely versatile, and it’s strong. All of these benefits make it easy to forget the potential harm one straw or bottle cap can actually do. We assume that once we dispose if it, it magically disappears. However, we are starting to realize the harsh truth and it’s coming back to bite us (quite literally). Our oceans and lands are being overrun with waste, and animals have turned to plastic as a source of food. There are already traces of plastic in the fish that we are consuming. Scientists have even predicted that by the year 2050 – there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish (by weight).

Ocean Marina, Pattaya, Thailand

After some random web searching, I came across a plastic recycling project, which I immediately thought, “this is what Bangkok needs, this is what the world needs.” I’ve found that many people don’t get involved in volunteer work or conservation efforts, because they don’t know where to start. Trust me – it’s hard, especially living in a foreign country!

Thanks to Dave Hakkens, that is about to change.

Precious Plastics is a project created by Dave Hakkens, which helps people around the world set up their own local plastic workshops. Hakkens’ open source website gives A to Z instructions on how to build all the machines needed to break down plastic and turn it into something new. The possibilities are endless and the creativity doesn’t end on their website. The hope of this project is to encourage upcycling and provide an educational work place for the community.

I have decided to tackle the project and create a Previous Plastics workshop here in Bangkok. Our mission for the Bangkok workshop is to educate the community on plastic waste and consumption. We would achieve this by holding workshops around how to properly use our recycling machines and turn plastic back it back into raw material. This can then be used to create new tools and objects for use and even to sell. During these workshops we will provide tips on avoiding one-time use plastic and lowering your plastic waste footprint! Once you are properly trained on safety and usage, you’ll have free access to the workshop where you are able to upcycle whatever you can think of.

While this project is in its initial stages, we have already had a lot of positive feedback from the community and people who are eager to support in anyway possible. Our next step is to build the machines and find them a temporary home.

If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to me personally or follow us on Facebook! What we need the most are people who are passionate about saving the planet and reducing plastic pollution. There are many steps we need to take to get this project off the ground and I would love to have you join our team. Feel free to follow the page for updates on our project and also tips to becoming more eco-friendly.

Through the Precious Plastic’s Bangkok Project, I hope to spread more awareness of plastic pollution and give back to the community. Join our cause and let’s get one step closer to a greener, healthier planet.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

The countdown has begun! This joyous time of year has become its own season filled with lots of joyfulness, delicious treats and creative decoration for many people around the world. If you are looking for creative ways to host a fun and sustainable year-end gathering at work, we have just the right ideas for you.

Why not repurpose your office waste into some unique Christmas decoration? Gather old magazines, recycled paper or carton, as well as other recyclable waste from around the office to get the crafting session started. Take this opportunity to also talk about waste management and how to reduce waste in the office during the event.

Choose from a variety of green decorating ideas that are already out there or come up with your own using recycled goods from around your office. Whether you are creating ornaments, wreaths, or other décor, you will be surprised by how ‘waste’ can be turned into something glorious. You may even ask everyone to bring some more supplies from their homes. Be inspired by these recycled ornaments and check out these Christmas and winter crafts made from old toilet paper rolls or others made from old egg cartons.

You can even make your own Christmas cards or gift tags using old magazines or newspaper. All you and your colleagues will need are scissors and glue! And in case you are missing some essential arts and craft supplies, look for environmentally friendly options when purchasing them.

To take your get-together to the next level, you may even want to consider running a little workshop on how to upcycle used coffee grounds from your office’s pantry. A self-made candle from coffee grounds or a bar of soap makes the perfect eco-friendly Christmas gift.

Last but not least, put on some Christmas tunes and simply be jolly. Are you ready for the holiday season now?  Let’s get crafting!

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When visiting National Parks, the best way to be a responsible traveller is to follow the rules and regulations. After all, they are there for a good reason – your protection. Respect posted rules and remind others to do so if necessary and appropriate by politely reminding fellow visitors to notice and follow the park’s rules to contribute to continued preservation. Report any signs of vandalism or misbehaviour to park rangers. Parks’ visitor centres are a good resource for information on regulations as well as for available trails. Here are some more ways to enjoy a responsible national park visit.

  1. Stick to indicated trails to ensure that the ecosystem is not harmed and the environment as well as you stays safe. Though some parks may allow off trail or cross country experiences, it is not a general rule so do your research on regulations and rules for the recreational area you are visiting. If you are bringing pets, make sure the trail allows it, and be sure to keep them leashed and that you clean up after them. You may also consult local authorities or park rangers on site. If you feel more adventurous or if there are too many visitors on the trails, you may want to choose a backcountry adventure.
  2. Avoid removing seeds or shells, damaging corals or picking flowers to not have a negative impact on nature. Enjoy watching the wildlife instead of feeding it to not intervener with their natural way of sourcing food.
  3. If you are planning on camping in a national park, make sure to check the local camping regulations and prepare your campground meals in advance. Bringing your ingredients in reusable containers (including your reusable water bottle) will help to reduce waste. In case you still produce waste, ensure that it goes in the correct bins or take it back with you if no suitable disposal is available. Read more of our tips for responsible camping and RVing.
  4. Use the park’s shuttle services for transportation if available instead of driving yourself. You will be able to enjoy more of the scenery and worry less about traffic or parking. They are also a great way to get around if you are planning a one-way hike.

Read more about the right behaviour in national parks here, stay safe and enjoy your visit!

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Cyprus struggles to manage waste as tourist numbers soar

Categories: Europe, Planet, Recommended Reading
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Tourists on a crowded, sun-drenched beach in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa tossed drinks cans into recycling bins as a record-breaking holiday season drew to a close.

With more visitors heading to Cyprus than ever, the Mediterranean island’s waste disposal system is under pressure, despite efforts to cut landfill use and encourage recycling, waste management and tourism, experts say.

Panicos Michael, manager of the five-star Alion Beach Hotel in Ayia Napa, said the rising number of visitors raised major issues. “I think that this will be a big challenge for the island in general to cope with the increased amount of waste that’s going to be produced,” he said.

Cyprus — seen as a regional safe spot shielded from the unrest that has hit other popular Mediterranean destinations — hosted a record 3.2 million visitors last year and looks set to top that by eight percent in 2017, official figures show.

Read the full article on the problematic waste situation on Cyprus here.

By unknown author for AFP.

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What a load of rubbish: the traditional focus is on litter-picking volunteer groups. Photograph: Alamy

It’s time the responsibility for recycling was laid firmly at the door of the packaging manufacturers

Litter brings out an urge in me to ban everything. Under my regime, straws would be outlawed. Plastic drinks bottles – only 57% of which find their way into recycling – would be verboten. But top of the list of banned items would be wacky recycling surveys.

The latest, from Business Waste, highlights the craziest eco blunders found in the nation’s recycling bins. The list includes a car door, 1,000 Greenpeace badges (oh, the irony!) and a full Christmas dinner including plates, tablecloth, crackers and pudding.

Read the full article on ethical and green living here.

By Lucy Siegle for The Guardian.

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Leaving this world a better place than you found it. Green burials or funerals offer an alternative for remembering those you love in a sustainable way. Truly giving back to nature and turning death into life may seem morbid, but is something to think about nonetheless — have you thought of how and what will happen to your remains after you die? Have you thought about what kind of legacy you would like to leave?

Returning to nature

A green funeral is an alternative burial method that incorporates environmental philosophy through preservation of natural habitats, and consideration of space. Natural, organic, “back to the land” burials are becoming more popular, with several different options both on land at sea that can make a positive environmental impact.

Green burials allow us to return naturally to Earth. Bios Urn and Capsula Mundi offer ways for ashes and corpses to grow into tress. Eternal Reefs transform cremated remains into something that helps to create new marine habitats for sea life.

Here is some additional information on how you can leave an environmental legacy:

Pre-planning your funeral

Make your choices and let your friends and family know exactly what you want in a will. Seek advice of your ideal sustainable burial with trusted deputies who will carry out your wishes. Check out these useful links for planning and facilitation of your green burial:

Green funeral home

Some funeral homes consider the environment; check out certified green funeral homes options at Green Burial Council. There are also sustainable and biodegradable shrouds, eco-friendly caskets or urns.

 

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Recycling Tips for Your Post-Holiday Waste

Categories: Green Tips, People and Places, Planet, Waste
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Wondering how to deal with all that decorations and waste from gift giving after the holiday season? Here are 5 handy tips for your post-holiday waste:


  #1: Christmas Trees 

Don’t throw away your Christmas trees when the holiday is over. Real Christmas trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes. Learn how to recycle your Christmas tree and give it a second life.

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 #2: LED Lights 

If your lights still work after the holiday season, reuse them for as long as possible. When they can no longer be used, take the time to help the environment and have them turned in for recycling. Check out where and how to recycle your old lights.

#3: Gift Wrappingshutterstock_167381660

Don’t just toss wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons, bows, or other gift wrap accessories that are in good shape. You can preserve recycle wrapping paper of all kinds by unwrapping your gifts carefully and save wrapping for crafts as well as future celebrations or holidays. Here are 19 ways to repurpose gift wrap, plus another 30 fun ways to reuse leftover gift wrap.

#4: Cards 

Wondering what to do with all the holiday cards after the holidays are long gone? It’s time to get crafty – check out these websites for more ideas on recycling and reuse your used holiday cards:

#5: Gift

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Amazon Give Back Box (photo credit: Amazon)

Are your gifts not quite your taste? Here’s what you can do with unwanted gifts after the holiday.

Let’s us make an effort to be ‘zero-waste’ in time for New Year’s, and beyond!

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