BANGKOK -- The Chinese invented paper, gunpowder, noodles and, some claim, golf, but definitely not plastic. Plastic ranks as one of Asia's most useful Western imports, but it is now one of its most troubling. Some regional responses to its careless use involve new technology, while others tap into Asia's various cultures and crafts.
In northern Thailand, Phairoj Phatsorpinyosakul runs the small Rimping Supermarket chain around Chiang Mai. "We encourage customers to eschew the use of plastic bags, and we make a charitable donation of 0.5 baht each time they do," he told a local reporter. "Our plastic bags and containers for seafood and meat products are all 100% biodegradable."