06/14/2011

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THAILAND: Trial for fully compostable plastics in Q3. SCG unit foresees viability in three years

The petrochemical unit of Thailand's Siam Cement Group (SCG), will begin laboratory-scale production of 100% compostable plastics compounds in the third quarter.SCG Polyolefins Co, a subsidiary of SCG Chemicals, targets initial production of 50 tonnes of compostable compounds for trial use by customers that are plastic product manufacturers, said managing director Yuttana Jiamtragan. However, he declined to say exactly when the commercial-scale production of the environmentally friendly plastics could start, saying it would depend on how market demand develops locally.The cost of producing bioplastics is three to four times more expensive than for petroleum-based plastics."We must further educate customers about the long-term benefits of bioplastics while the government should provide support in terms of tax incentives to encourage consumers to use this product that is good for the environment," Mr Yuttana said.SCG Chemicals' compostable plastics compound is derived from a mixture of tapioca starch, which has abundant supplies in Thailand, and imported polymerised bioplastics. The innovation can be used in the manufacturing of various plastic products, mainly plastic bags, with similar strength to that made of other bioplastics compound."Global demand for compostable plastics continues to grow in line with the emerging trend of environmental protection concerns," he said.Estimated global consumption of bioplastics is projected to reach 3.2 million tonnes in 2020. With annual growth of 15% at present, it is anticipated that compostable plastic compounds will be commercially viable in the next three years.In Thailand, demand for the compostable compounds accounts to 300 tonnes per year, half of it used in producing plastic bags, mainly for finished products for export.Somsak Borrissuttanakul, honorary president of the Bioplastics Industry Association, said the cabinet's rejection of an incentive package proposed by bioplastics manufacturers was disappointing.A major element of the proposal was a 300% tax refund for corporate spending on bioplastics."What we proposed is realistic," said Mr Somsak."The 300% tax refund in particular will encourage big customers such as CP to be more willing to use bioplastics. Now that the incentive was turned down, I think it will take another 3-5 years for bioplastics to be commercially available."(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi Pakistan)

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