As part of Alliance One’s commitment to environmental sustainability, we are working with farmers to properly manage waste on their farms as well as minimize the impact of crop protection agents (CPAs) used in tobacco production in Thailand.
Many tobacco farmers use CPAs to control pests in tobacco and, as needed, Adams International Ltd (ADAMS) and Siam Tobacco Export Corporation (STEC), will supply contracted growers with CPAs in their input packages. While these agrochemical products have benefits, any residue left in the used containers is potentially hazardous to the environment, water supply, animals and people. Proper disposal of empty CPA containers is required in order to mitigate these risks.
Historically, the majority of empty CPA containers in Thailand have been disposed of improperly – that is, plastic and glass containers may be sold to general recycle collectors, burned or buried in the fields. When disposed of improperly, the containers pose a significant risk to farmer health and the environment.
To address this concern, ADAMS and STEC initiated a CPA container disposal program in December 2014. Rather than risk the growers disposing of empty containers in a hazardous manner, the CPA Container Disposal Program encourages growers to return all of their empty containers back to the issuing company. The empty containers are then safely transported to Akkhie Prakarn Public Company Limited (AKP), an authorized incineration company based in Samut Prakarn province. Our target is for farmers to return 95% of their empty CPA containers by 2018.
When we first launched the CPA container collection program, there was a lack of understanding among our farmers as to why proper CPA container disposal was important. However, farmers responded well as we incorporated the CPA container return into our GAP incentive program and emphasized this topic throughout our farmer training programs. In 2015, approximately 95 percent of STEC-contracted growers and 65 percent of ADAMS-contracted growers participated in the program. In total, ADAMS and STEC collected more than 471,112 units (approximately 9.3 metric tons) of plastic bottles, paper (cardboard) and aluminum foil.
Our 2016 collection efforts began on April 18 and we are already seeing more containers being returned when compared to the same time last year. This year, we are collecting glass, aluminum foil and plastic bags, in addition to the materials we collected previously. We expect farmers to return between 60 and 80 percent of the total containers used this season.
We plan to continue implementing this program annually to ensure participation among all of our growers and that we are collecting all empty CPA containers. We look forward to continuing our partnership with PMTL to help farmers attain environmental sustainability by managing other potential environmental impacts, reducing the use of natural resources, and protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. Active engagement and support from our customers, as well as our direct and indirect suppliers, is critical as we look to create a sustainable future for tobacco farmers and communities in Thailand.Back to News