Low Carbon City

  • Best Practice No 11
  • Thematic Area 3: Inclusive Urban Public Services
  • Country of Origin: Thailand
  • Name of Local Government/Municipality: Muangklang Town
  • Type of Local Government: Municipality
  • Replicated by: Wakatobi, Indonesia

Short Version

Summary

With a budget of only 1,000 Euro, the Mayor of Muangklang town launched a solid waste management program which led to a significant increase of living conditions of the local people and turned the city into a liveable environment.

The following innovations have been implemented:

  • A comprehensive waste management has been set up. Instead of constructing a complete building with a sophisticated incinerator, a simple outdoor conveyer belt has been used. Separable organic wastes are also collected for producing compost. By this, a large amount of the daily disposal could be reduced at the municipal landfill.
  • Introduction of natural gas vehicles (NGV). Buses with conservative tram-like appearance have encouraged people to use public transport around town instead of private cars. This reduces overall fuel combustion.
  • Improvement of water quality:
    • In the municipal market, discarded vegetable leaves and fruit peels are collected to produce E.M. (Effective Micro organism) concentrate. The concentrate is then used to improve the water quality of the river by adding it into the municipal sewer at different locations. The rest can be fed to animals in the municipal farm. Their manure is collected and sold;
    • The municipality also introduced grease traps to equip houses and shops along the riverside and in the city. Grease traps reduce the river’s organic load, thus greatly improve the overall water quality of the river. Collected grease is transformed into fuel bars, which serve as supplementary fuel in the municipal slaughter house and reduce the use of firewood.
  • The municipality also introduced grease traps to equip at houses and shops along the river and in the city. Grease traps reduce the river’s organic load, thus greatly improve the overall water quality of the river. Collected grease is transformed into fuel bars, which serve as supplementary fuel in the municipal slaughter house and reduce the use of firewood.
  • Natural gas vehicles. Natural gas vehicles (NGV); buses with conservative tram-like appearance, have encouraged people to use public transport around town instead of private cars. This reduces overall fuel combustion.

These activities were mainly funded by local government annual budget and with some contribution (financial and material) from private companies such as Apina Industry, National Starch and Chemical and neighboring area like Rayong Province, which supported grease traps for Muangklang municipality to install in houses.

Background and Objectives

Located 269 kilometers from Bangkok by the eastern highway, Muangklang municipality has a population of 17,197 or 3,309 households. It has a total of 13 communities and covers 14.5 kilometer square. The Municipal Mayor, Somchai Chariyacharoen, initiated the best practice model. His goal is to turn his town into a truly sustainable and livable city. Aside from this, the mayor has introduced other simple but effective programs to comprehensively tackle urban environmental problems. He makes sure to use existing resources and potential and cut bureaucratic friction. Ultimately, the mayor aims to change the consumerism way of life to a more productive and self-sufficient one for sustainability. 

Over time, Muangklang residents benefited from the improved quality of the river, improved means of public transport, the abundance of locally produced organic vegetable, fertilizer, and compost, and the increase of green areas in the municipality. Local authorities from around Thailand have also visited Muangklang municipality to learn about the best practice model.

A.   Innovative Elements

Muangklang town launched a solid waste management scheme with a capital of only 1,000 euros. It set in several innovations to improve overall waste management and better living conditions through the following effort:

  • Comprehensive waste management. Instead of constructing a complete building with a sophisticated incinerator, they used a simple outdoor conveyer belt. The daily collected waste is laid on the conveyor belt, from where the workers pick out recyclable items. Separable organic wastes are also collected for producing compost. This reduces a large amount of daily disposal at the municipal landfill.
  • Water quality improvement. In the municipal market, discarded vegetable leaves and fruit peel are collected to produce E.M. (Effective Micro organism) concentrate, which is used to improve water quality in the river by adding it into the municipal sewer at different places. The rest can be fed to animals in the municipal farm. Their manure is collected and sold.
  • The municipality also introduced grease traps to equip at houses and shops along the river and in the city. Grease traps reduce the river’s organic load, thus greatly improve the overall water quality of the river. Collected grease is transformed into fuel bars, which serve as supplementary fuel in the municipal slaughter house and reduce the use of firewood.
  • Natural gas vehicles. Natural gas vehicles (NGV); buses with conservative tram-like appearance, have encouraged people to use public transport around town instead of private cars. This reduces overall fuel combustion.

The innovations introduced under this program have delivered the following benefits to the local government and the community:

  • Solid waste management reduced waste as a result of recycling and reuse and thus reduced the number of trips made by the garbage trucks to the landfill. It has saved the municipality a lot on petrol expenses. It also means longer life for the municipal landfill.
  • The compost is generating income as well as saving a lot of money for the town. The methane gas from the compost process replaced conventional fuel source in the municipal slaughter house. It meant lower fuel cost for the facility running. The compost itself is at a high demand by local fruit growers.
  • The water quality of the river has significantly improved. The E.M. concentrate is added to the municipal sewer at different points in town so that water is treated all the way even before it reaches the river.
  • Air quality has improved. Reducing private car use on the narrow streets of Muangklang means lighter traffic, reduced traveling time, and reduced gas emission from exhaust pipes.
  • Planting in abandoned areas has increased the municipality’s green areas. The municipality also introduced urban agriculture so people can grow vegetables for their own family. Besides, rice farming is being emphasized to local farmers.

B.   Involvement and Activities

These activities have proven to be well-received in the communities. Seeing immediate benefits, the people have willingly assisted the municipal government in implementing the best practice model. Market vendors help in collecting discarded vegetable leaves. Schools have joined the waste management program. More and more house owners are using grease traps in their houses.  After only a few years, Mayor Somchai Chariyacharoen, as initiator of this best practice model, has become very popular. His latest electoral victory proves that people want him to continue what he has been doing. The fresh term also allows him to introduce more projects and improve the existing ones.

Activities implemented in the model:

  • Solid waste management—waste separation, conveyer belt, missing bins, school programs.
  • Water quality improvement—E.M. production, grease trap promotion, annual feast on boat.
  • Air quality improvement—NGV public bus, urban agriculture, green area promotion, traffic control.
  • Educational program—school programs, volunteer trainers.
  • Quality of life promotion—Restoration of traditional activities, new sports facility as a park, overall healthy environment.

C.   Sustainability and Replication

The following factors ensure the sustainability of the program:

  • Self-reliance. This model is relatively a small-scale operation. The conveyer belt waste management team is running by itself, under the close supervision of the mayor. By selling the by-products of the operations, such as compost, EM, recyclable materials, and locally grown organic vegetable, the team is earning enough money to pay for operational costs and workers’ incentives. Being the municipal learning center, they also earn from entrance fees collected from visiting groups across Thailand.
  • Education for the new generation. The recyclable waste program has been expanded to some local schools. Solid waste management is not only taught; students are encouraged to practice it in their daily lives. This way they see firsthand the positive results of decreased waste and the benefits of increased income. Volunteer trainers from the municipality go around schools to educate and encourage students to practice solid waste management.
  • Public relations. The mayor has actively engaged the media to promote the best practice model. He talks about the practices in the local FM radio. He also makes sure it’s highlighted on the municipal Web site. He even approaches residents for face-to-face talks, to make sure people learn what has been done. Because of the mayor’s efforts, people understand and appreciate the model better.

Other local government units will be encouraged to adopt this best practice model because they offer the following:

  • Incentive. Waste reduction means cost reduction and income generation. The best practice model only needs a small team of 42 workers to operate. They save the municipality a lot of money. At the same time, they earn enough money to pay for their salaries and incentives. It’s truly a win-win situation for the municipality of Muangklang.
  • Motivation. It is better to see than to only hear. By visiting, people can see improved situation, solved problems, and better way of living. Any town residents would gladly adopt the proven measures once they experience Muangklang’s story themselves.