More than 75% of our home waste is recyclable. Most of us in this day and age of plastic pollution awareness are prone to being self-imposed eco-warriors, but what happens to our household rubbish in Phuket? Prim finds out. Photos by Dave Langley.

Believe it or not one of my favourite places on Phuket is T. Thepthong Panish Recycle Depot on the road to Cherngtalay (sung in a Bob Hope style). It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of rubbish manned by a swarm of workers busy separating recyclable goods by in general categories of: glass, plastic, paper, metals and hazardous waste.

Around the flurry of home-owners trucks, motorbikes with sidecars and ‘professional recyclers’ with precarious loads that jostle to offload their ‘goods’ is the owner of this depot, Kannika Thepthong along with her son and daughter, who stand over each deposit armed with clipboard and pen, while the booty is divided and weighed.

Beer bottles stack high to the ceiling, aluminium cans are stuffed into bags the size of a family car, metals arranged by type are bent and cut by blow torch into transportable pieces and a mountain of plastic bottles are de-labelled by two ladies with knives at speeds that would see a novice sporting several less fingers on day one.

All is then categorized into separate areas of the warehouse and yards by a deft forklift truck driver who swivels around the tightest of spaces like a giant robotic figure skater while his mangy yard dog lies asleep on the back oblivious to the yard’s transformation.

Amidst the endless turnover of trade the clipboards disappear into the office where two minutes later a bell pings, the glass hatch slides open and cash with a slip of itemized prices is handed over.

Where’s there’s muck there’s brass, my old boss used to say, although it’s not much, but enough to warrant the trip and leave a warm n fuzzy feeling inside knowing you’ve done your little bit to help recycle the planet. Mind you, the professionals can earn a tidy coin.

If a trip to the dump isn’t on your agenda, why not help out by categorizing your home waste, in general to plastic drinking water bottles, milk bottles (different grades of plastic cater for different values), beer bottles, paper, metals and general waste. The municipal collectors will invariably sort where they can on route, but if they do as at our place, collect rubbish at 3a.m. then the easiest and less noisy for them/ you the better. Otherwise, leave it for the ‘pro’s’.

From the depot four to five 10-wheeler lorries, pending on the season, take the waste to the Wongpanit Recycle Plant in Bankok where it is melted, smelted and on the whole reused. All glass is recyclable – recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours. Drink producers clean and refill the beer bottles, organic matter is composted.

Recycling just a single aluminium can saves enough energy to catch up on your favorite album on your music device and recycling 100 aluminium cans saves enough energy to keep the lights on in your bedroom for two weeks.

2000 pounds of recycled paper can actually help to save 17 trees, over 350 gallons of oil, and a lot of landfill space. That also means less air pollution.

Every little we do at home helps. Shop sensibly. Kick plastic into touch. Recycle where possible.

Top tips for recycling

1 Eco-warriors mantra – reduce, reuse, recycle

2 Try so get into the habit of recycling every day – have separate bins – in multiple locations

3 Compact the rubbish – the more space you save, the more recycling you can fit in

4 Buy recycled goods to start with and you’ll be helping the planet without even trying

5 Recycle your water – throw the veggie water on the garden/ plants – flush when you need to

6 Encourage an artist – dump your rubbish at their house – seriously, schools use lots of reusable items

7 Recycle your robots – we’re in an electronic device world – many company’s reuse old phones, computers, TV’s etc

8 Get everyone in the household involved in recycling – it’s not one person’s responsibility. Divvy up the chores like any other task

Where can you take your recyclables to dispose of or sell?

  • Thepthong Panish Depot, Baan Liphon Thalang Tel: 081 8958545
  • Wongpanit Recycle Separation Plant, Pra Phuket Kaew Rd, Kathu. Tel: 076 203271.
  • Wongpanit’s Thalang depot, Thepkrasattri Rd in Baan Lipon. Tel: 076 311224.
  • Patsakorn Co’s depot, Srisoonthorn Rd, Phuket Town. Tel: 089 8740758.
  • Ko Piean Co’s depot, Soi Paneang, Sam Kong, Phuket Town. Tel: 080 5373295.
  • Kanya Co’s depot, Pracha Ruamjai Rd (off 4023) in Phuket Town. Tel: 081 5385448