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The Reality of Recycling with Phangan Island Project (PIP)

26 Jan 2018

Koh Phangan receives 60 tonnes of waste per day. That is an incredible amount for a relatively small island.

PIP (Phangan Island Project) has been set up by Alexander and a group of wonderful volunteers and it looks set to revolutionise the recycling system here on the island.

PIP has a brand new facility located in Baan Tai near the Big Yang Tree and has been welcoming volunteers since it opened to help separate the labels, rings and lids from plastic bottles so they can then be recycled.

The bottles are then shredded in machines, the reason for separating and shredding is due to economics and efficiency.

By shredding the plastic they increase efficiency by decreasing the volume, it is still the same weight but a smaller volume which is easier to transport.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of the problem of plastic, 1 tonne is equal to 60,000 bottles!

On average there are 80,000 people on Koh Phangan each month and if each of those people consume just one plastic bottle a day that equates to 80,000 bottles which is 1.6 tonnes of plastic...just from one day!!

It is necessary and urgent that this plastic is dealt with and recycled.

With the help of projects such as PIP, this is the only way Koh Phangan will remain the beautiful natural wonder it is.

To encourage local people and businesses to take part in the scheme PIP have put a value on recycling which will always work as an incentive. This works by having new machinery on the island to help with processing the bottles and cans to increase its value. Once the plastic components from the bottles have been separated (the bottle, the label, and the lid) and shredded, the value increases.

PIP then send the processed raw materials to a recycling company in Bangkok, who offer money for it.

As well as ‘paying people’ for their recyclables (although gladly some are just happy for it just to be taken!), PIP will use the profit to sustain the project, and to fund machinery for future recycling projects.

This is the key to success in this project- it is self sustaining.

PIP will create jobs for the local community and teach people how it is possible to get rid of all the waste. At the moment is is solely run on the kindness, hard work and participation of volunteers.

Seeing the project for yourself is a humbling reminder of the size of the problem and will hopefully plant the seed in people's mind for a change to the use of plastic and ‘one use’ items.

PIP are storing all the glass bottles at the moment as they wait for an incredible piece of machinery to join them. The machine will be able to grind the bottles back to their original source of sand which can then hopefully be sold as a building material or even put back onto the beaches!

Those that want to participate in the scheme are given two mesh bags, for free. You then put plastic bottles in one bag and aluminum cans in the other. PIP will collect your recyclables once a week and you will receive payment depending on the weight of each bag.

PIP are recycling bottles and cans firstly because this offers the most revenue. Their goal for next year is to start collecting compost to use for community gardens. Eventually, they hope to recycle 100% of waste. Yes, it's possible, but only with the commitment of our community as a whole!

If you wish to help out then they always need people! You can contact them on their facebook page.