Dr. Wantanee Chongkum, Director of Innovation Culture Promotion Department, Thailand's National Innovation Agency said Thailand wanted to be the Asian leader in bioplastics. Biomass was abundantly available at competitive prices and the government strongly supported new developments. In 2008 its Board of Investment started attracting strategic investments by allowing exemption from corporation tax for up to 8 years for the production of eco-friendly monomers and polymers and the packaging made from them. They see Thailand as a future “Bioplastics Hub”.
Sugar Cane and Cassava are key crops with almost 16 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes/year (respectively) being produced in 2011. Starch can be made from cassava at about half the price of corn-starch, and 4 kilos of PLA can be made from 1 hectare of cassava crop compared with 3 kilos PLA from 1 hectare of corn. However 6 tonnes of PLA arise from 1 hectare of sugar cane or beet.
So far, only Purac produce lactides in Thailand but 2 new plants to make PLA, PHA and PBS are expected to come on stream in the next 3 years.
Thailand’s Bioplastics Industry Association consists of 50 companies ranging from agri-products companies to major international chemical companies, and TBIA has now signed memoranda of understanding with the European, Japanese, and Korean bioplastics associations to develop certification and identification programs for bioplastics.
(from a paper given at the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)