Thailand delays plastic scrap import ban for five years

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    Atthaphon Charoenchansa
    Pollution Control Department director general Atthaphon Charoenchansa

    Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that it will ban the import of plastic scrap in five years.

    However, this is a delay to the original proposal of 1 January 2022, and is likely to be a consequence of the country not having enough raw material for its plastic manufacturing industry.

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    Thailand’s Government though has amended its regulations to make a difference between plastic scrap and plastic waste and only the former will be permitted.

    Its definition of these is:

    “Plastic waste” means workpieces or plastic parts that have been used or not until it is discarded or is no longer needed or deteriorated to the point of being unusable or contaminated with other waste or other types of materials.

    “Plastic scrap” means scraps, cutting scraps and unusable items that are plastic regardless of being used whether or not according to the law on customs tariff category 35.15.

    Pollution Control Department director general Atthaphon Charoenchansa said: “In 2020, plastic scrap was imported totalling 150,807 tonnes and between January and April 2021, 44,307 tonnes of plastic scrap was imported, which was an adjustment period so that plastic operators were not affected.

    “[We will] gradually reduce the import of plastic scrap to lead to a 100% plastic import ban within five years.”

    He added that there will be public awareness campaigns in Thailand to encourage more people to separate plastics in order for them to be used in domestic manufacturing.


    Paul’s view

    Paul Sanderson, REB Market Intelligence
    Paul Sanderson, REB Market Intelligence

    Thailand has been weighing up whether to introduce a ban on plastic imports or not.

    The environmental point of view was put forward by Thailand’s Minister for Natural Resources Warawut Silpa-archa who wanted a ban brought in at the beginning of 2022.

    But the country’s Pollution Control Department argued that Thailand’s manufacturers needed raw material from the import of plastics.

    It seems a compromise solution has been agreed, whereby the ban will come in within five years, but the definition of what constitutes permitted import of plastic scrap has been tightened.

    With little UK material going to Thailand, exporters will have to weigh up whether it is worth investigating this market for a short period, or simply just target other markets nearer to home.

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