A green awareness movement is spreading to all corners of Thai society, says the BOI (Thailand board of investment) with much encouragement by government and business. From electronics to automotive to agribusiness, suppliers are making products and manufacturing techniques more ecologically safe, committing to a Thai green culture.
Communities are also improving waste collection and disposal methods.
The Thai government’s support of environmental protection has never been stronger, with 2011 a breakout year of fresh policies and projects. Perhaps the most far-reaching program is the Ministry of Energy’s Fifteen-Year Alternative Energy Plan. Reaching to 2016, it will develop Thailand into a low-carbon society and a major Asian hub of alternative energy exports.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) shape up as a major beneficiary.
Under the Ministry of Industry’s Green Industry Project launched in May 2011, SMEs are receiving assistance on environment-friendly output through five stages: commitment, implementation, review, company-wide participation, and convincing others in the supply chain to go green.
Thailand’s eco-friendly efforts are gaining attention around the world. The Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes picked the country to host a workshop on electronic waste (e-waste) management. Held in Bangkok on 19-21 April 2011, the meeting brought together 55 representatives from 10 countries in Asia for sharing experiences and solutions in e-waste disposal.
Protection of the environment is certainly now more than lofty words in Thailand. Putting force behind the green campaign, the Thai Industrial Standard Institute in 2009 adopted chemical restrictions on electrical and electronic products. Known as the Thai RoHS Standard, the initiative encourages local manufacturers to follow the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive on dealing with e-waste. Guidelines are put forward for materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and flame retardants used in plastic components.
Moreover, after Cabinet approval a few years ago, suppliers in Thailand are also complying with the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive covering disposal of products from home appliances to toys to medical instruments. Recycling of TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners and computers is a big part of this.
With production becoming more ecologically safe, the term “green plastics” has entered solidly into Thailand’s industrial lexicon. PTT Plc, the country’s largest energy company, and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. have announced a US$200 million venture to develop the world’s first factory making biodegradable plastic from sugar. Commercial production at the Rayong Province plant will start in 2014, using about 54,000 tonnes of raw sugar per year.
The PTT subsidiary IRPC is stepping up its production of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) to meet growing demand for the product in the electrical and electronics sector. It is doing so, however, with a pro-environment twist. Creating added-value ABS, the company is mixing in rubber content to make the thermoplastic greener. IRPC has already signed an agreement to supply green ABS to Hatari Electric Co. for its manufacture of eco-friendly electric fans.
With Thailand’s abundance of cassava, sugarcane and rubber, and demand for biodegradable plastic increasing 30% annually, such projects will help make the country the Asian hub for green plastics production. Thailand is already a significant exporter of bio-plastics on outbound shipments worth US$2.92 billion in 2010, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics.
The BOI acts as Thailand’s marketing arm and actively promotes the country worldwide as one of the best investment locations in Asia.
The BOI is tasked with devising and implementing strategies under which promotional activities are organized around the globe throughout the year.
The BOI’s seven overseas offices (Tokyo, Osaka, Shanghai, Frankfurt, Paris, Los Angeles and New York) serve as Thailand’s front desks in liaising with potential investors.