Thailand’s Plastic Bag Ban Puts Manufacturers On The Brink Of Closure
Feb 06, 2020

The ban on distributing free single-use plastic bags in shops, malls and convenience stores in Thailand put into force on January 1 this year has not only positive effects. Dozens of plastic bag manufacturers are now at risk of closing their businesses altogether if they get no support from the government, according to the president of Thai Plastic Industries Association, Somchai Techapanichgul.

He said that almost 500 plastic manufacturers represented by the association expect to stay in this industry only until April if the government refuses to step in. The association estimates that the ban on single-use plastic bags has already cost the industry 24.3 billion baht ($782 million).

“We may need to shut down our businesses, which employ about 7,000 workers,” Somchai said, adding that “they are now living with a dim and uncertain work prospect.”

Plastic bag orders down by 90 per cent

Orders have shrunk by 90 per cent since the government introduced the campaign. As a result, production has been scaled down and work-hours have been cut drastically. Staff who depend on daily wages topped up by overtime, have begun quitting their jobs.

However, the association noted it was not against the ban as such which had favourable effects on the environment and was reducing enormous amounts of plastic waste in the country, but just asked for more time to adjust to the new demand situation.

Somchai claims the government reneged on an agreement to phase out single-use plastic bags only by 2022, which would have given the industry enough time to adapt their production lines to manufacture alternative products such as multi-use, more durable plastic bags which also can be recycled. The production of plastic bags thicker than 40 microns are currently allowed by the Pollution Control Department and not covered in the ban.