Thailand’s plastic ban delay took into account balance of need for material and environmental considerations

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PCD director general Attaphol Charoenchansa

The Government of Thailand’s decision to delay a plastic ban until 2026 took into account a balance for needing raw materials, but also to prevent the country from becoming the world’s dumping ground.

This is according to Attaphol Charoenchansa, director general, Pollution Control Department.

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In a statement, he said that Thailand originally planned to ban import of mainly PET plastic scraps in 2020. But in January 2021, it was decided to ban the import of all recycled plastic.

But now it has been decided to introduce a ban in 2026 and reduce import quota by 20% each year until then.

This means the quota for 2021 will be 250,000 tonnes, which is 50% of the country’s production capacity. So far, just 70,000 tonnes has been imported.

In 2022, the quota will be reduced to 200,000 tonnes, in 2023 to 150,000 tonnes, in 2024 to 100,000 tonnes and in 2025 to just 50,000 tonnes. Then in 2026 plastic imports will not be permitted from 1 January.

Attaphol Charoenchansa said that Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce will set as a condition that importers must take into condition environmental issues. The exact details of this have yet to be revealed.

He added: “The consideration of easing import restrictions on plastic scrap has taken into account the balance of both parties [importers and environmentalists] due to the current economic situation and the epidemic situation of Covid-19.

“The Government will expedite the promotion of waste separation in order to obtain quality plastic that is not contaminated and can be used as raw materials, including organising a meeting forum between buyers and sellers, which will promote more efficient domestic plastic recycling, in parallel with the reduction of plastic scrap imports from abroad.”

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