Thai Roadmap in Plastic Waste
Will Reeder, International Account Manager outlines Thailand’s ‘Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management', an ambitious path to sustainable plastic use in Thailand.
Across the globe, countries are introducing increasingly comprehensive legislation to help combat the environmental concerns associated with plastic waste. One such example is Thailand’s Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management, which has just entered phase two, gearing up towards a circular economy by 2027.
Prior to the implementation of the Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management in 2019, Thailand was one of the worst offenders for plastic waste, with over one million tonnes of plastic released into the ocean in 2017. This placed Thailand alongside Vietnam, China, and Indonesia for marine plastic dumping, in a region that is notoriously poor for sustainable collection and treatment of waste.
Thailand has an underdeveloped waste management system; three-quarters of plastic waste goes to landfill and in 2018, this equated to 1.5 million tonnes! Billions of pounds worth of plastic is wasted, with harmful effects on the environment.
In response to the harmful impacts of plastic waste, the Thai Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Pollution Control Department created Thailand’s Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018 – 2030.
What is Thailand’s Road Map to reduce plastic waste?
Thailand’s roadmap on plastic waste has two targets. Firstly, to reduce and replace single-use plastic by using environmentally friendly products, and secondly to have a 100% circular economy by 2027.
The roadmap aims to achieve this with three measures and three phases.
The three measures
- Reduce plastic at production
- Reduce the consumption of single-use plastic
- Manage plastic waste effectively after consumption
The three phases
- In 2019 cap seals, oxo-degradable plastic, and plastic microbead were all banned
- In 2022 further single-use plastics were banned, such as foam food containers and plastic straws, etc
- In 2027 the target is for all plastic waste to be recycled
Between the phases, gradual improvements to the waste collection system are projected to allow for a circular economy.
The journey so far
In 2019, governmental changes led to increased communication with businesses to reduce plastic bag distribution. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment estimated this would remove 13.5 million bags from circulation.
However, following the COVID-19 epidemic in March 2020, widespread food delivery within Thailand increased plastic waste by 15% from 2019. By August 2020, cooperation between the largest food delivery providers in Thailand, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, worked to ensure food delivery containers were increasingly environmentally friendly. An encouraging sign in Thailand is that businesses and legislators communicate on matters of sustainability.
The formal introduction of extended producer responsibility legislation has not been implemented, as the roadmap targets infrastructure and educational changes. Currently, producers are only required to avoid banned plastics. The roadmap targets the implementation of EPR and standards for plastic products in the coming years.
Thailand’s roadmap for a circular economy is a strong approach that remains on an ambitious path, displaying a willingness from legislators and businesses to improve sustainability efforts.
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