Ethanol to be used in making bioplastics

Ethanol to be used in making bioplastics

Sugar cane, a raw material for bioplastics, is harvested for use at an ethanol production plant in Tak province.
Sugar cane, a raw material for bioplastics, is harvested for use at an ethanol production plant in Tak province.

The cabinet has endorsed the promotion of the use of ethanol to produce bioplastics to create environmentally-friendly materials, said government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

Bio-ethylene is a precursor in the production of bioplastic pellets.

The cabinet has approved tax exemption for bio-ethylene to support the bioplastic manufacturing industry.

An existing law stipulates that ethanol produced in the country must only be used for fuel and liquor production.

Ethanol is currently blended with benzene to produce gasohol.

As petrol use is expected to decline in the future as electric vehicles become more popular, ethanol should be allocated for industrial purposes such as bio-plastic production, according to a source who requested anonymity. Such a move is in line with the global agenda for environmental protection including the government's bio-, circular and green (BCG) economic model.

In line with these trends, the cabinet chose to endorse the promotion of the use of ethanol in the production of bioplastics, which are biodegradable.

Regular plastic is made from ethylene which is typically produced from petrochemicals. During this production process, quantities of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. However, if using ethanol, the quantity of carbon dioxide released can be reduced, or very little is released, according to the source.

In a related development, the cabinet issued five guidelines in different forms regarding the use of ethanol among other industries.

The first guideline pertains to the development of ethanol production standards to be led by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, in collaboration with industry experts, ethanol manufacturers as well as ethylene factories which are the major users of ethanol. Apart from developing technical standards, this would also require personnel development and a certification body to assess the skills and competencies of industry professionals while complying with occupational standards to help maintain sustainable ethanol production.

The second guideline is actually a memorandum of understanding between ethanol manufacturers and users which clearly specifies the amount and timing of ethanol deliveries to meet the demands of the bioplastic industry.

The third refers to the appointment of a National Ethanol Committee to oversee ethanol procurement and determine the amount of imports required in the case that domestic producers can't produce ethanol in accordance with the required standards or to cope with a local supply shortage.

The fourth focuses on skills development for farmers and domestic ethanol producers to produce high quality and standards of ethanol.

Finally, the state should also amend laws and regulations to support the usage of ethanol among other industries.

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