A Buddhist temple in the south of Bangkok is reportedly recycling thousands of plastic water bottles by turning them into sacred orange robes for monks. According to international media reports, the temple manages a campaign calling for donations of plastic bottles which are later processed into synthetic fibre and then used to make robes. The initiative has reportedly recycled 40 tonnes of plastic since its inception in the year 2018.
The recycling temple of Wat Chak Daeng is a fine example of recycling in the South Asian nation as Thailand is reportedly one of the five countries that account for more than half of plastic in the world's ocean. According to international media reports, the monks at the temple also aim to curb plastic waste entering the Chao Phraya River, which flows south to the Gulf of Thailand in the western Pacific Ocean.
Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, who is the abbot of the temple in Samut Prakan province, reportedly said that unlike most temples where people give monks alms like food and clothes, devotees ride bicycles here to offer plastic bags and bottles in exchange for his blessings.
While speaking to an international media outlet, the monk further said that one kilogram of donated plastic bottles can help make a full set of monk robes, which has a high return value, both in terms of money and merits. According to reports, the temple has already managed to produce at least 800 sets of robes and more is in the making. Each set of robe reportedly sells for between $65.79 and $164.47 and the earnings are used to fund the project and pay waste-sorting volunteers, many of whom are housewives, retirees and disabled people.
The monk further also explained the process and said that it involves collecting the bottles and separating the caps and labels. Then, he added, that they are washed and crashed into a block before taken to a different factory where they are sliced into small grains and mixed with other components before being stretched into thread. He further said that the thread is later dyed back at the temple where it is woven into sheets to make the orange robes.