PHUKET AND BANGKOK, THAILAND: The Phuket Hotels Association and the U.S. Embassy, through a Science Fellowship Program, partnered to tackle waste management challenges in Phuket. The goal is to significantly reduce single-use plastics at Phuket’s hotels. As a result of this collaboration, the Phuket Hotel Association’s 65 member properties (representing nearly 11,000 rooms on the island) have already reduced the volume and types of single-use plastics in operation and will eliminate the use of plastic water bottles in guest rooms by 2019. This is an important step toward reducing and eliminating marine plastic pollution, which is affecting marine health everywhere and a threat to tourism in Thailand and the region. When implemented next year, Phuket will become one of the first tourism destinations in the world to have made such a large commitment to managing marine pollution and addressing the problem.
During the project, Dr. Marissa Jablonski, a U.S. waste management expert, investigated plastic use and waste management at the island’s hotels and resorts. She offered sustainability solutions during 45 site visits, developed a customized best practices list, conducted six workshops for hotels’ leadership and staff, started a green supplier list, and trained local trainers. Several hotel managers appointed environmental stewards to continue these efforts. Dr. Jablonski also worked with businesses, government, and civil society to raise awareness and put forward concrete solutions.
“Our ocean and its resources are under tremendous pressure from a variety of threats, including marine pollution,” remarked U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies. “By 2050, scientists assess there could be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean if we don’t act. The U.S. Embassy is committing to helping address this problem. We are proud to bring an expert to engage in this unique public-private-partnership with the Phuket Hotels Association to help find practical solutions.”
President of Phuket Hotels Association Anthony Lark commented, “Plastic pollution is one of the most critical issues facing the planet today. The world’s oceans and the creatures that depend on them are choking on plastic and it is our duty to tackle this problem. We are thrilled to announce that this project empowered our member hotels to eliminate all plastic water bottles in rooms next year. This represents literally millions of single-use plastic water bottles that will be eliminated from Phuket’s waste stream.”
After Dr. Jablonski’s recommendations are implemented at all the Phuket Hotels Association’s member properties, Phuket will become one of the first tourism destinations in the world to eliminate single-use plastics across such a large number of hotels and resorts. To continue this momentum, Dr. Jablonski will speak on September 24 at the Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism Forum (PHIST), a new regional sustainability forum for the hospitality sector. To learn more about the Phuket Hotels Association or PHIST, please visit www.phukethotelsassociation.com.
The Embassy Science Fellows Program – started in 2001 – places scientists from the United States overseas to contribute to solving problems. More than 450 Fellows have participated in the program globally since its inception. For more information, see https://www.state.gov/e/oes/stc/.
For high-resolution photography, see https://state-low.box.com/v/embassy-science-fellows
Phuket Hotels Association members are listed at https://www.phukethotelsassociation.com/member-hotels.