Phuket Hotels Join Forces with Thailand’s Largest Retail Group to Reduce Plastic Bag Use

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As it prepares to host the inaugural edition of PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism Forum 2018), the Phuket Hotels Association has achieved a major victory in its drive to secure a more sustainable future for Thailand’s most popular resort destination.

In partnership with PHIST, the unique free-to-attend event that takes place on Monday 24th September 2018, Central Group, Thailand’s largest retailer and owner of the Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, Tops Supermarket and Family Mart, has pledged to abolish the practice of giving away free plastic bags to its customers on Phuket.

This forms part of a joint initiative with the Phuket Hotels Association, which will see Central Phuket’s customers pay for reusable bags made by the residents of local orphanages or shelter homes. Proceeds from the sale of these environmentally friendly bags will go directly to the disadvantaged Phuket residents who made them. A joint initiative that is currently in its planning stage.

The re-usable bag scheme marks the first tangible benefit from PHIST, over a month before the organisation’s inaugural event, which will take place at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa. The PHIST Forum will feature a series of expert keynote speakers, topical talks and technical workshops on the critical issues of sustainable development, corporate sustainability, community tourism and global environmental trends.

Supported by the Thailand Convention and Events Bureau (TCEB), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), BMW Group Thailand, Blue Tree Phuket, as well as Central Phuket, PHIST is expected to attract more than 500 delegates.

“Central Group is Thailand’s largest and leading retail group, so its pledge to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags is hugely significant,” said Anthony Lark, President of the Phuket Hotels Association. “This is a wonderful example of cross-sectoral collaboration, as two of Phuket’s biggest industries – tourism and retail – come together for the benefit of the entire island. We look forward to achieving more positive partnerships through PHIST as this exciting event draws closer.”

Central Phuket’s Senior Vice President, Ms Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, added: “Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems facing the world today, especially in coastal destinations like Phuket. So we are delighted to partner with PHIST and the Phuket Hotels Association to help cut plastic waste on the island. This campaign, which is part of our wider commitment to plastic reduction, will help the people of Phuket while also preserving the island’s pristine environment.”

The goal of PHIST is to raise awareness about environmental issues in Southeast Asia’s island destinations and to drive change within the industry. It also supports the Phuket Hotels Association’s on-going “People.Planet.Phuket” campaign, which aims to educate local communities and visitors about the importance of the “Three Rs” ( Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).

Approximately five million plastic bags will make their way into the world’s oceans this year alone*. This presents a huge problem for the environment – especially the estimated 100,000 marine creatures that die from plastic entanglement every year**. Even the plastic bags that don’t end up in the sea will usually be dumped in landfill sites. Some plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose.

PHIST will help the retail and hospitality industries to identify alternatives to plastic. A Green Suppliers’ Exhibition will be hosted during the event, while the organisers of PHIST will give away merchandise including recycled bags. Delegates’ name badges will be made from re-used teak wood.

The pledge for Central Phuket to stop giving plastic bags to customers will initially be limited to the company’s department stores in Phuket, but if successful it could be rolled out further afield – including to Central’s large network of supermarkets. In fact, the company has already committed to stop giving plastic bags to its supermarket customers on every third day of every month.

Central Pattana Public Company, the developer of Central Phuket, currently operates Central Festival Phuket, one of the island’s largest lifestyle malls located just outside Phuket Town. It is also planning to launch Central Floresta in Phuket’s main tourist area on 10 September 2018.