By Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul
(泰國)The Nation Published on July 8, 2009
Planned levy for oil-based plastics aimed at more use of biodegradables
The National Innovation Agency (NIA) is to propose a plan to the Finance Ministry that would introduce an environmental tax on oil-based plastics by 2010 in an attempt to encourage consumers to use more biodegradable plastics.
The move is a part of the National Road Map for the Development of the Bioplastics Industry, which covers the five years from 2008 to 2012.
The measure is designed to boost bioplastics demand in Thailand in line with practices in Japan and several European countries.
The government will have to set clear goals and take serious action if it is to encourage the replacement of oil-based plastics with bioplastics and establish a bioplastics industry in the Kingdom, NIA Innovation Department director Wantanee Chongkum told The Nation.
"The environmental tax will make the price of oil-based plastics higher, plus the trend of environmental concern, manufacturers and consumers will shift to biodegradable plastics instead," she said.
The NIA has employed experts to study existing environmental taxes and government measures overseas, particularly in Europe, which can be adapted here.
Bioplastics have not been popular in Thailand because their prices are double or triple those of conventional plastics. Wantanee said that in fact biodegradable plastics cost about the same as ordinary plastics if the whole process from production through waste treatment is considered.
The NIA is cooperating with the Development of the Environment and Energy Foundation to study the possibility of setting up the first degradable-waste plants in Thailand.
"Our country needs to develop its system of waste management. Bioplastics will play an important role in the substitution of organic waste for dry waste," she said.
Presently, 60 per cent of total waste in the Kingdom is organic waste and the other 40 per cent is dry rubbish.
She said the cost of setting up a degradable-waste treatment plant with a capacity of 200 tonnes per day is estimated to be about Bt100 million, which should be cheaper than building high-quality furnaces with zero emissions.
The NIA expects to complete its study and make its proposal to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Finance Ministry this year, with an eye to implementation by the end of 2010.