Eren Olgaç (17), YRE Students from Turkey at the 10th World Environmental Education Congress

In today’s world, due to limited resources and over-polluted environment, recycling must be an important part of our lives. I’ve attended to the WEEC2019 Congress in Thailand to see how much effort people and companies make for sustainability, recycling and maximizing the productivity of a product in factories. In this article I am going to tell the recycling effort that countries and companies do.

Recycling ratio is improving in Thailand, and companies play a big role to make this happen. One of these companies is IVL (Indorama Ventures Plc.), the largest PET producer by recycling in the world. It produces airbags, diapers, clothes, beverage and food packages, bottles by recycling PETs (rPET).

Since 2011, 38 Billion bottles have been recycled by the company. The garbage has been recycled in 32 countries and 5 continents including Thailand. Promoting the sustainability practices of the circular economy is not only beneficial for our world by not over-polluting it, but also for countries’ economy. One single factory gives opportunity to work for 2000 people. In fact, past 16 years, Thailand’s unemployment rate has dropped from 4% to 1%. Thailand still required all such bottles and boxes to made from 100% virgin plastics.

The process has two different ways in order to obtain PET\Polyester by recycling. In the first way, consumers’ garbage has been bought from recycled pet suppliers, after fed into the recycling process and finally recycled PET Resin has turned to PET\Polyester. In the second way, Petroleum or neutral gases are obtained from crude oil and turned into Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) or Monoethylene Glycol (MEG) just before it becomes to a PET\Polyester again. PET Preforms are turned into PET Bottles and PET Films are turned into PET Packages. Fibers from PET\Polyester are turned into even clothes. 100 tones of garbage is turning to PETs and it only takes 1 day to do this whole process.

According to the Pollution Control Department’s annual report in 2018, the country produced 27.8 million tonnes of waste, of which 39% (10.88 million tonnes) was disposed of in landfill sites. Plastic waste accounted for around two million tonnes, of which 500,000 tonnes (plastic bottles) was recycled. However, there were still around 1.2 million tonnes of unrecycled plastic bags.

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