Siam Cement Group (SCG) has teamed up with US materials science company Dow to conduct a feasibility study of plastic waste recycling and renewable feedstock operations in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Roongrote Rangsiyopash, SCG's president and chief executive, said the study will be concluded by December, after which both parties will outline the facility size and investment budget.
"This collaboration expects to operate mechanical and feedstock recycling from plastic resins, plastic waste and petrochemical feedstocks," he said. "It is a business opportunity for SCG and Dow to embrace the circular economy concept, bringing practical solutions for recycling and upcycling of plastic waste to Thailand."
SCG is also calling on the government to offer investment privileges for the circular economy because many companies are investing heavily in the concept.
"The privileges will attract investors to enter this scheme with many projects such as waste separation facilities," Mr Roongrote said.
He said both firms plan to expand their recycling operations beyond EEC provinces, but any move will depend on the volume of plastic waste circulated in the recycling facilities of each province.
Jim Fitterling, Dow's chief executive, said the company can provide its recycling technologies to support future operations in Thailand.
The collaboration with SCG is an example of Dow's strategy of enabling a shift to the circular economy for plastics by focusing on resource efficiency and integrating recycled content and renewable feedstocks into production processes.
Moreover, post-consumer plastics can become higher-value products through their extended lifespan.
Mr Fitterling said the plastic waste circulating in the oceans amounts to about 8 million tonnes worldwide. Thailand alone is responsible for some 1 million tonnes a year entering the seas.
"Dow expects that plastic waste locally can be recycled for this operation at roughly 200,000-300,000 tonnes per year in the near future," Mr Fitterling said.
Dow and SCG will study the possibilities for waste separation in the country. The study is expected to determine which types of waste plastic are suitable for waste separation and the best solution for a recycling system.
"Plastic waste recycling and renewable feedstock operations can start on a commercial scale of roughly 20,000-30,000 tonnes per year," Mr Fitterling said. "The plastics are too valuable to be lost as waste, so they should be a part of the circular economy concept."