Thai firm will turn plastic waste into fashionable fabrics


As plastic bags have become unfashionable among green-conscious consumers, Thai company Saha Pathana said last week it would use plastic waste to manufacture fashionable fabrics, signing an agreement with PTT Global Chemical for its new environmentally friendly endeavor.

“Saha Pathana Inter-Holding (SPI) recognizes the importance of investment in the textile industry, and realizes that textile products created from plastic waste are an interesting business,” said Vichai Kulsomphob, SPI president and executive director. His company, he added, is responding to “the global shift of sustainability and environmental protection [that] continues to rise among consumers.”

Members of the Thai public, private sector and policymakers have become keenly aware of the damage that plastic waste and other types of refuse are doing to the environment. An incident in June in which a pilot whale washed up and died on a Thai beach because it had ingested 80 plastic bags in the oceans brought the issue to prominence.

Several countries in Asia are among the countries dumping the most plastic waste into the seas, but the problem is global and many developed countries, including the United States, have been shipping plastic and other types of waste overseas instead disposing of it or recycling it at home.

A few firms in the West have been making clothing from recycled plastic, including The North Face, Geoffrey Beene, and Ecoalf. Celebrities such as and Pharrell Williams have also launched clothing lines with materials made from recycled plastic. At present, however, those companies are just drops in the ocean of the textile and fashion industries.

Before the venture by SPI, no Thai firm has attempted to create textiles from plastic waste. A holding company, SPI has a range of interests in financial firms, land, public utilities, and brands and patents, among others.

Under the terms of the agreement, PTT Global Chemical will provide the technical knowledge and support on how to convert plastic waste into quality fabrics that meet international standards.

“In this partnership, PTT Global Chemical will bring expertise in the petrochemical business and manufacturing of plastic resin by incorporating innovative and groundbreaking technology,’’ Vichai said.

“The combined strengths of the two organizations will ensure the promise of long-term business and simultaneously maximize the potential for Thai businesses, while also corresponding with the growing trend of green business across the world,” he said.