Lat Phrao Canal, Thailand

Project lead: TerraCycle Global Foundation

Introduction

The Chao Phraya River, the “River of Kings”, spans 370 km through Thailand before reaching Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand. Considered the lifeblood of Bangkok, the river serves as a major thoroughfare for the city’s 8 million residents. Every day, more than 50,000 people use the ferries on the Chao Phraya River to get around Bangkok. Throughout the years, over 1600 canals and waterways have been engineered through Bangkok to shorten the passage of the river through the city. Lat Phrao Canal, a 1.5 km section of this canal network, flows through a large, densely populated community with approximately 120,400 residents.

Along with China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka, Thailand has been identified as one of the top contributors of plastic pollution into the oceans. Thailand’s 23 coastal provinces dump an estimated one million tons of garbage into the sea each year. The Chao Phraya is one of Thailand’s longest and most polluted rivers that empties directly into the Gulf of Thailand. Lat Phrao Canal, like many of Bangkok’s canals, collects large amounts of solid and liquid waste in its passage through the dense urban areas of Bangkok. Local marine waste streams predominantly include plastics and other floating debris originating from nearby communities and regular boat traffic.

Intervention Plan

TerraCycle Global Foundation installed two plastic capture devices in the Lat Phrao Canal to reduce the amount of marine plastics entering into the Chao Phraya River through Bangkok’s canal system. The device consists of two out-stretched boom arms anchored and attached to a metal collection trap. Nets hanging from the boom arms capture debris floating just below the water’s surface. To increase mobility and ease of maintenance, the device was designed with a detachable metal collection trap. The system is operated by the locally-established TerraCycle Thai Foundation headquartered in Bangkok, in collaboration with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and is based on a prototype installed in the tributaries of the Tha Chin River in Samut Sakhon. The captured waste is sorted and recycled by the Thai Foundation in collaboration with partner organizations, such as TerraCycle Inc.

Community Engagement

The communications and outreach strategy leverages the marine waste capture system to communicate about the issue of plastic pollution to the greater Lat Phrao Canal community. The strategy is focused on educating and changing the behaviors of the canal community that are major contributors to marine waste. The strategy is implemented by the TerraCycle Thai Foundation in partnership with Blue Carbon Society and Mahidol University. The team utilizes data collected from the plastic capture devices to drive educational programs and forums about behavior that contributes to increased marine waste and best practices to address it. To inspire youth to take action and create changes in their households and community, the team leads programs in local schools. To engage and align the public to take action, the team conducts community projects that reinforce positive behaviors, such as upcycling of trash to construct items of value like playgrounds and community gardens. Local stakeholders, government, business and community leaders, are being engaged to co-sponsor and participate in cost-efficient outreach activities to promote local ownership, thereby facilitating long term sustainability of improved plastic disposal initiatives. To evaluate the impact of the project, a baseline longitudinal study of the two communities living at the Lat Phrao Canal used a mixed-methods approach of questionnaires and interviews.

The Team

Terracycle logoThe TerraCycle Global Foundation focuses on waste reduction globally to encourage and support the effective recycling of various materials that would otherwise plague our landscapes and waterways. The TerraCycle Global Foundation was established in 2018 as a non-profit public charity by TerraCycle Inc., a private US recycling business. TerraCycle, Inc. is a leader in recycling traditionally non-recyclable materials, and will help with technical expertise and identification of relevant processing, recycling, and disposal opportunities. TerraCycle Thai Foundation is a non-profit organization recently launched by the TerraCycle Global Foundation to implement the local marine waste capture systems, including Samut Sakhon province and the Lat Phrao Canal in Bangkok. Blue Carbon Society is a Thai-based organization whose mission is to preserve and protect local marine and coastal environments. and will assist in developing community awareness and educational campaigns to reduce plastic waste entering waterways. 

Resources

TerraCycle Global Foundation website: https://code.terracyclefoundation.org/