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FEATURE STORY June 5, 2020

Meet our Innovator Protecting our Oceans in Thailand: Paradorn Chulajata


Paradorn Chulajata has played a major role in establishing Public Private Partnership for Sustainable Plastic and Waste management in Thailand, aiming to reduce plastic wastes in Thai ocean by 50% in 2028. In addition, during 2018-2020, he was appointed by National Environment Board to be a member of Plastic Wastes Management sub-committee, led by Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. He is the Honorary Chairman of Plastic Industry Club, under the Federation of Thai Industries, and Managing Director of Prepack Thailand Co, Ltd., one of the leading flexible packaging companies in Thailand.

Tell us about yourself

I was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, alongside my three other siblings. At the time, I never thought that I would end up in this career. I spent a lot of time during my childhood training to become a professional tennis player. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Michigan, USA, where I later met my lovely wife. Now, I am a father of two, working two jobs and spending quality time with my family.


What comes to your mind when you think of the ocean? What does it mean to you personally?

The ocean brings so much joy to us as a family.  My family loves the ocean – especially my children. For example, I have been an avid scuba diver for over 30 years. Similarly, my son and my daughter have taken up scuba diving since they were 12 (they are now 28 and 26 respectively). We cannot wait to go back by the ocean again when things are better.


What do you see as the biggest challenges facing our oceans in 2020?

I see two major challenges – (1) plastic marine debris and (2) global warming. Plastic waste has not only polluted the ocean but also claimed many lives and affected the food chain through micro plastics. When it comes to global warming, the rise of water temperature has had a devastating impact on coral. I have seen so much coral bleaching over the past few years during my scuba diving trips at some of my favorite spots. It is very sad.


Can you tell us about your work? How does your work help reduce oceans plastic pollution?

I am proud to be part of the founding team that established the first Public Private Partnership in plastic and waste management in Thailand on June 5, 2018. This initiative aims to reduce plastic marine debris in Thailand by 50% by 2028. We called it Thailand PPP Plastic, comprising of public and private sector players as well as NGOs. We now have 42 organizations that have joined this initiative. We have divided our work into areas ranging from improving infrastructure, law & regulation, promotion & education, innovation, and database creation.


(Photo: supplied)

Our proposed solution is to implement a Circular Economy Model for the entire plastic supply chain, using the 3Rs concept (Recycle, Reuse, Reduce), and to expand the market for recycled plastic material. During the first phase, we are trying to minimize the amount of plastic waste dumped into landfill through a traditional waste collection system. We have piloted the model in Rayong province, the center of the chemical and auto industries, by working with municipalities to segregate plastic wastes, build start up to perform sorting, connect to recyclers, and promoting the use of recycled plastics in several markets. This initiative has become a model for other countries in the region who are also looking at ways to tackle ocean plastic pollution.  Most of the technical innovations, so far, have been in finding the products and markets for the plastic wastes. This includes using plastic waste for road and wood plastic composite, and upcycling for textiles. In my opinion, technical innovation is essential. However, the process of getting private sector, government, and NGOs to understand and work together to solve the problem is also interesting and necessary.


What drives you to do this work?

My family and our love for the ocean.  We have spent the majority of our vacations by the beach. I want to do whatever I can through my work so that the ocean can be how I have always remembered it growing up – clear waters, clean and full of life and vibrant colors under the water. I also hope that my future grandchildren will get to see the ocean the way I have in all its glory, or at least in a better state than it is now.  That is why, when I became Chairman of the Plastic Industry Club five years ago, I realized that plastic packaging and plastic-based products have become one of the main pollutions in the ocean. It was a wakeup call for me, given that I am one of the players in plastic industry, and more action has to be taken. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs from many single companies have not generated enough impact in reducing marine debris effectively. To fix this problem, we believe that the public sector, private sector, and NGOs must all work together to fight ocean pollution. By doing so, we will be able to achieve better results and see much greater impact.


If you had a magic wand and could change or fix one issue facing our oceans, what would it be?

First – that each individual person in this world uses or consume plastic responsibly by recycling, reusing and reducing plastic and they all segregate plastic wastes before putting them into the right garbage bin after they’ve finished using it.

Second – that every country in the world provide the right infrastructure to manage plastic wastes, ranging from infrastructure for segregating, cleaning, recycling, to upcycling plastic wastes. Thus, no more plastic waste will go to the landfill and environment. For example, converting contaminated plastic packaging to RDF and energy, as well as compostable for organic waste.

(Photo: supplied)

What message would you like everyone to hear on World Oceans Day 2020?

Imposing ban on plastic may not be the right solution. However, using it more responsibly could be. We all need to change our behavior, especially to stop littering. Meanwhile, the government needs to provide support and proper infrastructure to manage all types of waste, including plastic. Then, we will have significantly less, and hopefully no, plastic waste t polluting our ocean.

**The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank Group and its employees.