Ailing plastic businesses seek rescue
Labour Ministry has been asked to step in and help dozens of plastic bag manufacturers which are at risk of closing their businesses altogether since the government banned single-use plastics on Jan 1.
President of Thai Plastic Industries Association (TPIA), Somchai Techapanichgul, said at a meeting with Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul that almost 500 plastic manufacturers represented by the association "expect to stay in this industry only until April" if the government refuses to step in.
"We may need to shut down our businesses, which employ about 7,000 workers," Mr Somchai said. "They are now living with a dim and uncertain work prospect."
While Mr Somchai said he agrees with the government's attempt to reduce plastic waste, the grace period set by the government simply was not enough.
"The government had earlier set 2022 as the deadline for the ban, which gave us enough time to readjust our production lines," he said.
"When it decided to enforce the ban sooner, that time is gone."
Naphat Thipthanakit, vice-president of TPIA and managing director of the plastic bag producer Pack and Save, said the government should have tried economic approaches first before going ahead with an outright ban.
"Consumers should be allowed to decide whether they want to use plastic bags," he said. "If they want one, they will have to fork out extra money."
Mr Naphat also asked the government to promote the uses of larger and more durable plastic bags measuring more than 36 microns in thickness.
"These are designed for multiple uses and can be recycled dozens of times," he said.
The production and use of plastic bags which are thicker than 40 microns are currently still allowed by the Pollution Control Department.
The association had earlier estimated that since Jan 1, the ban on single-use plastics has cost the industry 24.3 billion baht. The ban also put 6,030 workers in the industry at risk of losing their jobs.