The Cabinet yesterday approved a five-year, Bt 1.8-billion (~34 million Euro) plan to develop integrated bioplastic production locally.
“This will bring a facelift to the Thai industry. Strategic innovations will be encouraged, particularly in the agricultural sector. This will also encour-age the birth of new environmentally friendly industries,” said Supachai Lorlowhakarn, director of the National Innovation Agency (NIA).
Besides environmental benefits, the net return from bioplastic produc-tion would be 21% higher than for a tapioca factory, he said. The NIA would prepare raw materials, speed up technology development, promote innovative industries and prepare infrastructure.
The plan targets Bt 500 million of economic value from technology, degradable products worth Bt1.5 billion from an investment of Bt 3 billion and environmental value of Bt 500 million from reduced waste-disposal costs.
Bioplastics, mostly deriving from cornstarch, account for only 1 per cent of total plastic demand of 200 million tonnes per year, according to the NIA. Worldwide bioplastic capacity is only 360,000 tonnes per year.
“Due to the 30-per-cent annual demand growth, bioplastics will produce a great opportunity for Thailand, which has high capacity to develop an integrated bioplastics industry,” he said.
Thailand had abundant biomass resources and agricultural feedstock, particularly tapioca. The Kingdom is the world’s third-largest cassava grower and the world’s No-1 exporter, with production capacity of 27 million tonnes worth Bt61 billion.
Source: The Nation, 2008-07-23.