PLA export value poised to rise 16.6% this year
The value of exports of polylactic acid (PLA), a type of biodegradable plastic, is expected to increase by 16.6% this year to 2.7 billion baht, with an additional 6,800 tonnes shipped out, making the country the world's third largest exporter, according to the Industry Ministry.
Last year, PLA exports stood at 42,020 tonnes, valued at 2.33 billion baht. The total production capacity was 75,000 tonnes.
Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said demand for PLA in the global market is high because the plastic is environmentally-friendly, since it can decompose within six months.
"The government has launched a campaign for PLA products among large retailers, plastic manufacturers and department stores," he said.
The ministry supports private companies to invest in the bio-plastic industry.
PLA can be used to produce a range of products including food packaging and straws. This type of biodegradable plastic is also affordable for manufacturers.
The bio-plastic industry is part of the state plan to make Thailand a bio-chemical hub in Asean within 2027. Other industries include chemistry and biochemistry.
Mr Suriya said the government also wants to promote bio-chemical products as part of its new economic sustainability development, which is made up of bioeconomy, circular economy and green economy.
According to the Plastics Institute of Thailand (PITH), Thailand is expected to see the export value of plastic beads increase this year by 2.7% to 267 from 253 billion baht last year.
PITH expects the country's plastic market value in 2021 will also increase by 3.1% to 1.04 from 1.01 trillion baht last year.
Last year the plastic industry accounted for 7.28% of GDP.
Thailand uses 4-5 million tonnes of plastic beads a year. Up to 2 million tonnes are used in the packaging industry due to demand growth in e-commerce as well as the food and beverage industries.
The country exports around 2-3 million tonnes of plastic beads a year.
It is the largest plastic producer in Asean, with a major production base in Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong.
Various types of plastic materials, including polypropylene, polyethylene and high-density polyethylene, are produced in Map Ta Phut. They are supplied to both domestic and global markets.
At present, Thailand has around 3,000 plastic converting companies. Main manufacturers are PTT Plc, IRPC Plc, Indorama Venture Plc and SCG Chemicals.