Complaint Filed Over Retailers’ Total Ban on Plastic Bag

A customer at Tesco Lotus Supermarket in Rama III uses cloth bag to carry groceries on Jan. 4, 2020.

BANGKOK — A transparency activist on Monday accused retailers of taking advantage of consumers in stopping to give out plastic bags without offering them free alternatives.

Speaking to the media after filing a petition against 75 retailers to the Consumer Protection Board, Srisuwan Janya said the firms are exploiting consumers rights by passing the burden to their customers with the ban on plastic bags they rolled out on New Year’s Day.

“I support the scheme, but retailers should offer alternative solutions for their customers,” he said. “They are taking advantage of their customers because they still charge the same price while saving cost from not giving out plastic bags.”

He also accused the government of failing to protect shoppers as prescribed by Article 61 of the Constitution, which required the authorities to provide safeguards to the rights of consumers.

“Some retailers use this opportunity to raise the prices of alternative containers, in which consumers have no choice,” Srisuwan said. “It seems that the government is OK with this, even though it’s their duty to protect consumers rights.”

He demanded the Consumer Protection Board to press retailers to find alternative solutions for their customers or mark down the prices within 90 days. If nothing has been done after those 90 days, Srisuwan said he would file a legal complaint against the board itself.

The nationwide plastic bag ban at major retailer chains is part of the government’s plan to eradicate single-use plastic bags nationwide by 2021, which also includes an even more radical solution of blurring images of single-use plastic bags on TV shows.