Thammasat UniversityLeading the Cultural Change for Sustainability “ISCN 2020” Award

Leading the Cultural Change for Sustainability “ISCN 2020” Award

Thammasat University has won ICSN 2020 Award for “Cultural Change for Sustainability”. The University has bagged the honors for its campaign “Thammasat Campus Life: No more single-use plastics”, and is the first university in Thailand to win this award.

International Sustainable Campus Networks (ISCN) is the network of colleges and universities all over the world that aims to be the place where members can share capacity, passion, and intellectual capital to re-envision the future and take meaningful action to contribute to sustainable development.

Every year ISCN grants the International Sustainable Campus Excellence Awards to accredit the members’ sustainable campus projects that demonstrate an outstanding performance in the following areas:  Whole Systems Approach, Partnerships for Progress, and Cultural Change for Sustainability. There is also another award, Honorary Member Award for non-member campus. Since the start of the program, there has been overwhelming numbers of nominees in each category.

In 2020, Thammasat University wins the “Cultural Change for Sustainability” award from the campaign “Thammasat Campus Life: No more single-use plastics”, being the first university in Thailand to wins the award.

Associate Professor Gasinee Witoonchart, Rector of Thammasat University, reveals, “One of our vital policies are to be the best sustainable and smart university. We aim to move towards sustainability using modern administration. We also pay attention to the environment, community, society, and people which are the critical part of being a sustainable university.”

Thammasat has been working on the campaign since 2005, under the strategy to begin with small actions and to do less for more. In the beginning, the university started by encouraging students to use cloth bags and water bottles. In 2015, we stepped up to create conditions with choices, such as voluntary-paid plastic bags fee in convenient stores, and in 2016, price reduction for using personal cup in canteens. In the same year, we intensified the actions to campus operational change, including eliminating water bottle cap seals – extended nationwide a year later; banning of all single-use plastic bags in 2017; use of washable cups and utensils in canteens and meetings in 2018; banning of single-use plastic cups and straws in all shops and cafes in 2019. Finally, we provided campus-wide lifestyle change, ‘Thammasat Refill Shoppe’, a place where everyone enjoys buying food & supplies using their personal containers. For the past 2 – 3 years, the program has reduced over 30% of the single use plastics and the similar momentum continues.  We are proud to be able to change people’s lifestyles toward sustainability and received this honorable award from the ISCN.

Assistant Professor Dr. Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, Vice Rector for Sustainability and Administration at Rangsit campus, said that the campus has a population of around 40,000 people. It is not easy to change people’s habit; therefore, awareness and commitment is needed for the project to be successful. In 2016, our plastic usage in convenient stores inside the university was 6,500,000 bags. After we initiated the “Say no to single-use plastic” project in 2017, we found out that the no. of plastic bags reduced to  4,700,000. However, the number was still less than the target that we had set. Hence, we created the “No more single- use plastic” project in 2018. In addition, we signed an agreement with private sectors and members of SUN Thailand in order to work collaboratively to promote the project throughout the country. With the help from students, merchants, and staff of Thammasat University, we have successfully created changes and promoted the use of reusable products in order to reduce waste problems in our university. 

“For Thammasat, the campaign did not start with only posters, slogans, or issuing regulations.  It is a creation of living conditions that led to behavior changes and compliant. Participation, inspiration and changes begins with oneself. Then, it is a truly “cultural change”. Asst. Prof. Dr. Prinya said.

Other measures used to encourage people to stop using single-use plastics are, for example, “lendable tote bag” system, ban selling bottles with cap seals, and stop using plastic bottles. We also reinforce the use of personal bottles, straw, reusable plates, and utensils during conferences and other festivities. Our goal is to create zero waste.

The latest project this year is “Pinto” Campaign using pinto as the food container for staffs of various departments when they purchased the foods in the canteens or shops around the university.  This campaign is very effective in eliminating the use of plastic bags or boxes, especially for Thammasat Field Hospital.

With the successful collaboration among different sectors, Thammasat is able to proceed according to the university’s strategic plan, issue 12 (2017-2021). The plan aims to enhance education to serve the future world and to be the best sustainable and smart university. We stimulated participation and connected more than 40,000 people who live on campus to appreciate the use of renewable resources or “Circular Living”. 

“These initiatives have drove awareness of the faculty, students and staffs.  As a result, Thammasat University became a good “model” for Thai society”, said Assoc. Prof. Gasinee

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