Thailand optimistic in becoming a bioplastics base

Thailand has been seen as a potential partner in transforming the production base for bioplastics and other converted products.

Based on a report produced by Plastics Institute of Thailand, its Executive Director Dr. Kriengsak Wongpromrat, recorded in a statement that Thailand produced around 17 million tonnes of sugar in 2018 and exported around 11 million tonnes.

“Taking 100,000 tonnes for the production of polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer is not going to affect the supply of sugar for food applications, especially since consumption of sugar may be adversely affected by a ‘sweet tax’ that Thailand plans to introduce,” Wongpromrat commented.

Wongpromrat also drew attention to the fact that sugar could generally be sourced to bioresin production plants. In Rayong, Thailand, figures indicated a total Corbion PLA, a 50/50 joint venture between Total and Corbion, operates a 75,000 tonnes/year PLA bioplastics plant. However, due to the growing demand in Europe, most of the quantity is been currently exported. This leaves only about 1,000 tonnes of bioresin for the overall usage in the domestic market.

Sources suggest, that while Thailand is exporting majority of bioresins, its long term strategy is to convert the resin domestically into semi-finished and finished plastic products.

The institute is known to be working on small and medium scale processors which will help in developing bioplastics conversion expertise. The institute has allegedly worked with 82 converters which has helped in producing goods such as thermoformed trays and bowls, bags, among others.

Thailand is drawing efforts to augment the value chain of biopolymers, however it has to presently accept the fact that Total Corbion is mainly been exported to EU and to other countries.