Over the next three years, Thailand will be taking major steps in fulfilling its plan to impose a total ban on plastic scrap imports.
Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) will be implementing a plan of action in three phases that will culminate in a total ban on plastic scrap imports by 2025, according to Minister Varawut Silpa-archa.
As part of the first phase, the department will start limiting the amount of imported plastic scrap based on actual production capacities next year. During this period, companies will still be able to fully import the scrap that they need.
In 2024, as part of the second phase, only 50 percent of imports will be allowed before transitioning to a total ban at the start of 2025.
The U.S., which is the second-biggest exporter of plastic scrap to Thailand after Japan, sent under 4,700 metric tons of plastic scrap to Thailand in 2021. It was a significant drop from the 107,000 metric tons the U.S. sent there in 2018.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
“Thailand must not be a dump site for plastic waste,” Silpa-archa was quoted as saying. “By the end of the next three years, we will not allow any import of plastic scraps from around the world.”
With the planned total ban, Thailand is following the steps of its Asian neighbors China, Malaysia and Vietnam, which have imposed their own plastic ban imports over the years.
Silpa-archa, who chaired a sub-committee meeting on plastic and electronic waste management, shared that they have identified 14 plants located in free trade zones that would be able to import plastic scrap until 2024. Plants outside of the free trade zone must seek approval from the panel if they intend to import plastic scrap.
Other efforts to reduce plastic waste include a plastic waste management plan to be drafted by the Department of Pollution Control to remove plastic waste from landfills for recycling by 2027.
The ministry will also implement a yearly campaign to reduce single-use plastic bags in Thailand’s department stores and convenience stores.
Silpa-archa said the campaign has so far been successful, managing to reduce plastic bag usage in the last two years by 43 percent, or 150,000 tonnes.