Central Will Only Give Plastic Bags When Asked

A customer brings a tote bag for shopping at a Tops supermarket in Bangkok on May 30, 2019.

BANGKOK — Blessed are the meek, who will have a hard time attaining plastic bags when staff refuse to give them automatically at Central Department stores starting this June.

Central Group claims it oversees the first Thai department store to stop automatically giving out plastic bags, a policy that will start June 5, World Environment Day. Meanwhile Central Group’s supermarket chains will refrain from giving out bags completely once a week, but will continue to automatically provide plastic bags on other days.

“Plastic waste is a global issue which needs to be addressed immediately,” Central Retail Corporation President Niccolo Galante said. “Thailand is the world’s sixth-biggest contributor of ocean waste, generating almost 2 million tons of plastic waste each year, or 200 billion plastic bags.”

Employees will stop automatically giving out plastic bags with purchases at Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, Zen Department Store, Super Sports, B2S, Office Mate, Power Buy, Thai Watsadu, Baan and Beyond, Auto1, and other shops in the Central Marketing Group.

However, they will still provide plastic bags if asked. In other words, the policy leaves a loophole for manus pa (“super aunties”) – the equivalent of a Karen who asks to see the manager – to demand as many bags as they please.

Plastic bags will continue to be automatically provided at Central Group’s supermarket chains except on Tuesdays and the fourth of every month – so remember to bring cloth bags to Central Food Hall, Tops Market, Tops Superstore, Tops Daily and Matsumoto Kiyoshi drugstore.

Tops says they will have a Green Checkout counter to expedite checkout for customers abstaining from plastic bags at all branches of Central Food Hall, Tops Market and Tops Superstore.

Family Mart convenience store will also only give plastic bags when asked and will not have any plastic bags available at all on the fourth. Three branches will completely forgo plastic bags everyday: Mahidol University, Ministry of Health, and Central Chaengwattana branches.

With these measures, the company says they hope to decrease plastic use by 150 million plastic bags.

Thailand’s uphill battle against single-use plastic has so far been one of sporadic measures by government and retailers. Tourist spots like Koh Samet and national parks banned plastic bags and styrofoam and encouraged people to use tiffin carriers mid-to-late 2018, but with little enforcement. For one glorious day on December 4, retailer Tesco Lotus switched from plastic to paper.

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How to Start Using Less Plastic in Bangkok Right Now

Tesco Lotus to Drop Disposable Plastic Bags Next Week (Updated)

Koh Samet Says No More Plastic Bags or Styrofoam on Island

Not Welcome: National Parks Ban Plastic, Styrofoam

Skip Bags, Pack ‘Pinto’ For National Parks: Minister