How do you recycle in Bangkok? The question isn’t a straightforward one to answer. While recent years have seen local government aim to promote the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – the city still lacks its own uniform recycling system. In its place, a variety of independent actors and organizations have stepped forth, making sure that more recyclable goods don’t go to waste.
Here are the main options you need to know about. Their accessibility can vary based on your locale.
1. Sa-leng – These individuals travel around certain Bangkok neighbourhoods, especially in the smaller sois and generally on modified motor-bikes. You can recognise them by their distinctive bike horn sounds. They scavenge different sites for scraps of recyclable material – plastic bottles, aluminium cans, paper, scrap metal, etc. If you spot these local collectors in your neighbourhood, you can often relay your recyclable materials to them to turn in. They generally pay a nominal fee for your materials based on weight.
2. Private companies – Private recycling companies like Wongpanit provide a range of services like recycling centers and on-site waste collection services. Visit their website for more details, including locations. Other private companies to contact include:
Fine Earth Company Limited
31 Soi On Nuch 44, Sukhumvit Road, Suan Luang
Total Recycling (International) Company Limited
522/180 Soi Ramkhamhang 39, Ramkhamhang Road, Wang Thong Lang
3. Recycling shops – The Zero Baht shop, located in On Nut Soi 14 of Prawet district, serves as a fine example of how to incentivize recycling habits. The shop was founded in 2012 by the Thailand Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for Sustainable Environment. It functions as a swap shop: when customers bring in recyclable items, they are able to swap them for basic consumer goods like packaged foods, drinks and various household products like laundry detergent. Kids can also bring water bottles in exchange for chips or candy.
4. Apartment buildings – Certain apartment buildings or condos organise their own recycling systems. If you live in one, check with the manager about availability.
5. Fundraisers – Finally, keep an eye out for local recycling fundraisers or drop boxes for unwanted things such as used eye glasses, toys, books, batteries and mobile phones. These can take place at local malls or community centers and often aim to raise money for charity or refurbish items for disadvantaged groups.
Recycling in Bangkok may not be easy to figure out but it can be done. Do some local research about which of the above options are available to you. Make the best of your household waste.