Efforts stepped up to cut back on rubbish disposed at Sanam Luang
Challenge mounts as visitors mass at historic park to pay respects to king.
WITH TENS of thousands of mourners gathering in and around Sanam Luang since October 14, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has been working hard to keep the area free of trash.
“We hope to cut down on the garbage by about 20 per cent in a week through a variety of measures, such as introducing reusable food containers,” Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang said yesterday.
Thousands upon thousands of people have been heading to the Grand Palace to pay homage to their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away at the age of 89 on October 13.
The Grand Palace sits next to Sanam Luang, a vast green ground where many people have now camped out to stay close to the late monarch.
Volunteers have been trying to keep the area tidy by carrying around garbage bags and asking people if they have anything to discard.
Still, the BMA reckons it has to encourage everybody to cut down on the garbage created.
“In order to cut down on garbage, we have to address the root cause – reducing the waste generated,” Aswin announced at a press conference yesterday in relation to garbage management.
The governor has invited people to donate plastic food containers and plastic water bottles so people in Sanam Luang can reuse these and not opt for Styrofoam containers that can only be used once.
According to him, tonnes of Styrofoam containers are used every day in the area.
In a move to support BMA’s efforts, some manufacturers of biodegradable containers have offered to provide their products for free in the area. Many good Samaritans have been providing food to the mourners in the non-recyclable containers.
“These manufacturers will provide a certain amount of food containers for free, and if we need more, they can help by selling us their products at a 50-per-cent discount. The biodegradable containers normally cost Bt2 per piece, which is twice as much as the Bt1 Styrofoam containers. With the discount, food providers should be able to opt for this eco-friendly choice without have to shoulder a bigger cost,” he said.
The city is also encouraging people in Sanam Luang to separate their waste properly before discarding it.
More than 2,000 volunteers have been helping sort out tonnes and tonnes of garbage daily, the BMA said.
Among these volunteers are members of the “Volunteer for Dad”, overseen by the recently-established joint coordination centre of three organisations – the BMA, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and Thammasat University.
According to Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a Thammasat University lecturer and coordinator, said volunteers have received some training.
Volunteers are stationed at each set of garbage bins – yellow for recyclable materials, green for food waste and blue for general waste – to encourage people to sort their waste before discarding it.
Many volunteers also go around the field to collect litter, while other walk around with garbage bags asking people if they have anything to discard.
“The problem is that people are not aware of sorting out waste before dumping it. So we use our hands to sort out the garbage before it is forwarded to the BMA,” Thanit Kaewrak, an 18-year-old student volunteer, said.
The governor is urging people to separate their garage properly and also help educate one another for the sake of effective garbage management.
After separating, the food waste goes to pig farmers, recyclable trash undergoes the recycling process and general waste is forwarded to the city’s three garbage management centres for modification and utilisation, Suwanna Jungrungrueng, director general of the BMA’s Environment Department, said.
City staff do about 100 rounds of waste collection per day, Suwanna said, adding that around 80 per cent of the garbage can be reused.
The garbage issue has also raised concerns, with environmentalists and observers offering suggestions to deal with the problem.
“There should be different garbage separation spots, with one or two members of staff, across the field. Food waste can go to specific pails, while [drink and food] containers can be piled up together to cut down on transferring traffic. Golf carts should be provided to take the separated garbage to waste terminals outside Sanam Luang,” Sombat Boonngamaning said in a Facebook post yesterday.
Since food waste accounts for 32 per cent of the garbage, many have said that people should take as much as they can eat and drink in order to cut down on the waste.