Dr. Suvit had conformed to the government policy to stop using plastic bags starting from January 1, 2020 by synergizing the public sector and Thai SMEs to develop the 100% biodegradable plastic bags from tapioca starch to realize the BCG Economy.
On December 9, 2019, Dr. Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul, President of the National Science and Technology Development Agency together with the media had visited the development process of bioplastics at SMS Corporation Co., Ltd., Lat Lum Kaeo, Pathum Thani. MTEC has corporated with the company to develop the biodegradable plastic bags for collecting food wastes and Thantawan Industry Public Company Limited provides the facilities to process the raw materials into plastic bags.
Dr. Suvit said that the cabinet has planned to stop using the single-use plastic bags in the department stores starting on January 1, 2020. This policy involves the cooperation between the government and the private sectors under the Plastic Waste Management Roadmap 2018-2030 to reduce and eliminate the use of plastic bags. Therefore, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation has conformed to this policy and focused on solving the environmental problems by being a part of the development of the biodegradable plastic bags for food wastes. This product is a research result of the collaboration between MTEC and SMS Corporation Co., Ltd., to develop bioplastic formulas to be processed into plastics with enhanced engineering properties and suitable characteristic for blowing into a thin film. The biodegradable plastic bags can be decomposed within 3-4 months.
This innovative Bio-Compostable Plastic Bag was produced by Thai researchers and private sectors, and would be used the very first time in the Red Cross Fair 2019, starting from November 15-24, 2019 at the Lumphini Park. The product resulted from the cooperation from various companies, namely Total Corbion Pla (Thailand) Company Limited and BASF (THAI) Co., Ltd, which supplies the raw materials, and Thantawan Industry Public Company Limited, which provides the facilities for processing the raw materials into the plastic bags. Thus, this innovation will be a key success to the environmetally-friendly plastic bags and help solve the environmental problems in Thailand. The biodegradable plastic bag for food waste is one of the protopype products that meets the BCG Economic development by using a modern technology to increase the value of the agricultural products, reduce the amount of plastic wastes and help sustain the environment.
Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul mentioned that plastic wastes had become a global problem, and Thailand was ranked the 6th place as the country that dispose largest amount plastic wastes into the ocean. The major cause comes from using a single-use plastic, which constitutes up to 40% of all the plastic wastes. According to the government’s policy to reduce and eliminate the use of single-use plastic products, which are found in a significant amount in the sea of Thailand and deteriorate its ecological and the environment, the key method of the waste management process is the use of plastics bags for collecting and transporting the waste, and most importantly, the organic waste and food waste should not to be contaminated with the recyclable wastes and other types of wastes. Therefore, MTEC has produced biodegradable plastic bags by developing bioplastics formulas using raw materials produced in Thailand, a tapioca starch, which meet the BCG Economy policy by improving the value of tapioca starch industries and income for farmers as well as transferring technology to the private sectors.
Mr. Khem Wanglee, Managing Director of SMS Corporation Co., Ltd, said that, this project is a collaboration between the company and MTEC, which had been upgraded to industrial level since the production is supported by Thantawan Industry Public Company Limited for blowing a thin film. This product contains TAPIOPLAST, which is biodegradable and is not harmful to the environment. Mr. Khem also mentioned that currently, there is only 1% of biodegradable plastics used since the production cost is the major problem. As a result, the company has developed a tapioca starch in the form of TAPIOPLAST plastic pellets that meets the needs of the market. The raw materials for TAPIOPLAST are all compostable; thus using it as the component in the production of the biodegradable plastic products would not only help reduce the production cost, but also provide the entrepreneurs to be more competitive at pricing, and it would benefit the environment. It is hoped that all the sectors would collaborate to push this innovation to meet the national needs and strengthen the country’s competitiveness and, at the same time, benefit the economy and environment. The development of modified tapioca starch for use in the bioplastic industry conforms to the BCG Economy principles, which are Bioeconomy, Circular Economy and Green Economy.
Miss Narissai Mahathitirat, Assistant Managing Director of Thantawan Industry Public Company Limited, said that the company is aware of the importance of the Circular Economy and operates it business under the concept of “THP for a sustainable life ” with the 6R principles, which are Re-Thinking, Re-Designing, Re-Ducing Material, Re-Processing, Re-Energy and Re-Covering. In terms of Bioeconomy and Green Economy, the company has developed the products that are environmentally friendly by using natural materials, such as sugarcane and corn to produce bioplastic products, such as straws, garbage bags and zipper bags under the trademark SUNBIO. To further encourage Thai researches, the company has collaborated with many universities and received the research technology transfer from MTEC to develop shelf-life extension bags for fruit and vegetable under the trademark Fresh & Fresh, employing MAP technology. It is a packaging that controls the levels of gases inside the bag to be in the balanced atmosphere, thus increasing the freshness of the products.
Regarding the public-private partnership in the research and development for society, it would be great if the government could provide tax incentives for the department stores that use biodegradable bags. The government agencies should also promote the correct understanding of the differences between the Biodegradable plastic and the OXO-degradable plastics. Also, the government must specify the appropriate methods to manage plastic wastes.
Lastly, Thantawan Company, as an organization operateing in Thailand, would like to be part of this campaign to enable the society to solve the plastic problems in a responsible and sustainable way. Also, it is very important to realize that the plastic itself is not the culprit, and it would be useful if it was reused and managed properly.