Thailand has become the first country in Asia to join the global movement, “Upcycling the Oceans,” with the goal of cleaning the seabed and using the collected trash to turn into yarn for fashionable items.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC), and the Ecoalf Foundation, officially launched the country’s “Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand,” to implement the initiative. The project will last for 3 years, from 2017 to 2019.
The project makes Thailand the very first in Asia to take on the movement, not just to upcycle ocean trash to fashion, but also to clean its waters of waste, and to maintain its ocean’s crystal clear waters and rich machine life.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand also works with local communities, fishermen, volunteers, NGOs, and tourists to carry on the project – involving stakeholders through education and developing the proper knowledge on the best ways to collect debris. The TAT is also working to get the support of local textile manufacturers, local clothing brands, as well as fashion designers in the country.
The initial target areas are as follows: the east coast of Thailand, which include Rayong and Ko Samet; the Gulf of Thailand, which include Surat Thani and Ko Tao; and the Andaman Sea, which include Phuket.
The project’s opening ceremony kicked off in Ko Samet, marking the initiative’s first milestone in its main goal of supporting sustainable tourism.
According to TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, “As part of the organization’s CSR strategy, the project reaffirms the TAT’s commitment to promoting responsible tourism and its leadership role in driving green initiatives, bringing together over one hundred divers and volunteers from TAT and PTTGC to remove trash from the seabed and along the beach on Ko Samet. The project will also help ensure Ko Samet remains pristine, by providing the necessary infrastructure for trash collection, including special trash containers on the island.”
Ko Samet is one of the top destinations in Thailand for Bangkok residents who enjoy its 14 white, sandy beaches packed with beachside restaurants and tourist attractions. It is also located only 200km from the country’s capital.
Upcycling the Oceans was founded in 2010 with its official first project launched in Levante, Spain, where fishermen collected trash from the seabed of its coasts in 2012.
Founded by Javier Goyeneche in collaboration with the Ecoalf Foundation, his initial goal was to create a fashion brand that was genuinely sustainable. Seeing the lack in the market for fashionable items using authentic sustainable fabrics, he set on his concept to create the very first generation of recycled fashion items with the very same design, quality, and properties of non-recycled items in the market.
This way, according to Goyenche, textile manufacturers would not have the need to create clothes and accessories with very high toxic and industrial waste, and thus, helping to support the environment.
“Upcycle the Oceans, Thailand” begins its campaign with the focus on educating and supporting local communities and organizations to help in the clean-up of Thailand’s oceans and coastal areas. And eventually, collected debris will then be used to make polyester fabric, and made available to manufacturers and designers for competitive fashionable pieces that are at par with non-upcycled items available in the local and global market.
Featured image credit: Upcycling The Oceans Thailand