Dutch bio-plastics firm expands in Eastern Economic Corridor

With plastic waste proving to be a major environmental problem for Thailand and the planet, Dutch bio-plastics company Corbion announced last week it will expand its investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor province of Rayong to increase its manufacture of plastic bags made from biodegradable materials such as cassava starch and bamboo scraps.

“International bioplastic producer Corbion recently announced an expansion of their presence in Thailand with an additional $100 million investment, including a new facility in Rayong set to open in 2018 that will produce poly-lactic-acid (PLA), a bioplastic polymer made from sugar cane,” reported Architectural Digest.

The investment by Corbion is bound to win generous incentives and privileges from the Board of Investment (BoI), as green industries and biotechnology are areas of focus under Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy of transforming the Kingdom’s economy into one driven by higher technologies, innovation, research and development, and creativity.

“The market for PLA is growing some 15 to 20 percent per year, driven by consumers that want to have plastic products that are more sustainable than the oil-based plastics,” Francois de Bie, marketing director for bioplastics at Corbion told the magazine. “As more and more consumers do not want to create waste, they are interested to see sustainable bioplastic packaging. PLA has a low carbon footprint and helps to reduce plastics pollution.”

The Eastern Economic Corridor, which covers the provinces of Rayong, Chonburi and Chachoengsao, will serve as the showcase development zone for Thailand 4.0. The EEC will be where advanced industries are clustered as well as more modern and environmentally friendly communities.

Thailand has risen to become a middle-income country on the strength of its manufacturing. Along with this success, however, have come environmental problems and challenges.

“Like many developing countries, Thailand is facing a dilemma: how to address growing energy needs and consumption without sacrificing economic growth. To that end, Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor is looking to bio-based solutions, taking advantage of a thriving agriculture industry by reusing the waste it produces – and in the process, potentially creating a green-tech sector other nations can emulate,’’ Architectural Digest wrote.

“The EEC was set up by the Thai government to orchestrate investments in such futuristic industries as next-generation cars, agriculture and biotechnology, robotics, biofuels and biochemical, among others,” the magazine said.

“With this new push for investment in green tech through business-friendly initiatives providing a huge economic boost, Thailand stands poised to make the most of its eco-friendly future. Clearly, it’s a growth industry in more ways than one,” Architectural Digest wrote.