Potential Implications of Thailand’s Plastic Waste Import Ban

By 2025, Thailand will ban plastic waste imports, presenting parties with business opportunities related to the country’s sustainability agenda.

三月 2023 , 撰写者 YCPS Marketing & Communication Group

Even though countries in Asia have local, authority-regulated garbage collection, there remains a significant gap in related areas like plastic collection, aggregation, and recycling. For Thailand specifically, plastic waste management is a concern, especially as sustainability becomes a more significant part of the country’s long-term agenda.

To improve its waste management of plastics, Thailand is expected to ban the shipment and importation of plastic waste from other countries by 2025, per The Business Times. Ultimately, this will help reduce the inflow of plastic waste while also providing interested parties with potential investment opportunities in the sustainability sector. 

Tax Incentives to Cut Plastic Waste
In addition to banning plastic waste imports by 2025, the Ministries of Industry and Finance have collaborated to develop a new tax incentive scheme to encourage businesses across several industries to limit their consumption of biodegradable plastics and reduce plastic pollution. Those in the retail industry will likely feel the most immediate impact as the sector is notorious for plastic use in its products.

This tax incentive will deduct approximately 25% of the total companies spend on biodegradable plastic products from 2022 to 2024. To qualify for the tax reduction, operators must purchase and source their biodegradable plastic products from licensed manufacturers who have undergone a certification process conducted by the Industry Ministry. As of January 2023, seven certified manufacturers have 72 licenses to produce various biodegradable plastic products.

With most Thai businesses already moving away from single-use plastics, the tax reduction program will further solidify Thailand’s commitment to using eco-friendly substitutes like biodegradable plastics. Given that local enterprises have been receptive to such changes, the path to sustainable development is a realistic venture but will take time. The participation of both the public and private sectors will be the key driver to the national sustainability agenda in the short and long term.

Business Opportunities in the Private Sector
As Thailand aims to adopt less harmful and modern waste management practices, the private sector will be presented with business opportunities to innovate, especially those with expertise in sustainability. Several startups across Asia have already created a niche while innovating the plastic waste supply chain, and stakeholders in Thailand can aim to replicate similar success.

For instance, India-based Ricron Panels turns non-recyclable waste into building materials and construction sheets like plywood. Meanwhile, a startup in Indonesia called Kibumi is digitally transforming the plastic recycling supply chain by introducing modern waste collection points. Currently, the start-up alone can manage 410 tons of waste per month. These examples perfectly illustrate the opportunities available to the private sector in Thailand, as they reflect which industries can expand into and innovate the landscape of plastic waste management. 

Sectors like construction, retail, and technology, to name a few, can all integrate sustainable plastic waste management practices into their current operations. Doing so will reap several benefits, namely: (1) strengthens corporate social responsibility, which is becoming increasingly important due to consumer awareness, (2) increases flexibility and adaptability of operations in the long-term; and (3) helps drive and scales up Thailand’s sustainability agenda.

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