Just when Map Ta Phut pollution seems to spell the end of heavy industry in Thailand, environmentally friendly bioplastics may resuscitate the industry.
Above photo is of dining utensils made from biodegradable bioplastics (Source: Wikimedia Commons).
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Public-private venture proposed for bioplastic, Science ministry ready to commit B300m by Yuthana Praiwan
The Science and Technology Ministry plans to form a one-billion-baht joint venture with PTT Chemical Plc (PTTCH), Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Mitr Phol Group to build Thailand's first polylactic acid pilot plant to supply materials to make biodegradable plastic.
The ministry will finance 30%, while the three companies would decide whether to invest individually or collectively, according to a source who asked not to be named.
The plant is expected to have annual production of 10,000 tonnes.
The government has been pushing for a biodegradable plastic project since 2008 in order to add value to the country's cassava and sugar industries.
Although future demand is promising, given rising environmental awareness, bioplastics cost five to six times more than petroleum-based plastics.
As a consequence the ministry decided to finance the project and help make it commercially viable.
A feasibility study by the ministry suggested that with 30% public funding, the venture could generate a return on investment of 13%, compared with only 5-6% if no public funding were available.
The source said Thailand could become a regional base for biodegradable plastic because of its abundance of sugar and cassava, and an extensive downstream polymer industry, so full integration requires only the development of a midstream industry.
The ministry will submit its financing proposal for cabinet approval tomorrow, in hopes of getting a plant up and running by 2013. The location would be decided by the business partners.
Veerasak Kositpaisal, president and chief executive officer of PTT Chemical Plc, said the development of bioplastics in Thailand had been delayed because of the high cost of technology, while the quality of finished products still did not meet the needs of plastic users.
He said the bioplastic plant was consistent with the company's plan to expand beyond fossil polymers into biopolymer. This will challenge the company to do more research to develop its own technology
Although bioplastic is expensive now, prices will come down as many polymer producers and raw material suppliers were spending heavily on R&D, he said.
Bioplastics now account for only one percent of total plastic consumption.
Once the cabinet approves the ministry's proposal to commit project finance, PTTCH would study its role in more detail, he added.
(Source: Bangkok Post, business section, Public-private venture proposed for bioplastic, Science ministry ready to commit B300m, 27/12/2010, Yuthana Praiwan, link)
bioplastics - a non-petroleum replacement for traditional plastics, "a form of plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable oil, corn starch, pea starch, rather than traditional plastics which are derived from petroleum," some are biodegradable (See Wikipedia)
biodegradable - the chemical breakdown of materials or garbage by the environment ("decomposed" or broken down by bacteria into a natural material that is no longer a nuisance like garbage, the material is "absorbed by the environment" and changed into a form that is not "toxic" for the environment) (See Google Definition and Wikipedia)
biodegradable plastics - plastics which break up and disappear quickly and naturally like paper or old food does (See Wikipedia)
petroleum - oil
petroleum-based plastics - products that are made from oil (by processing it in a chemical factory (refinery))
polylactic acid (PLA) - an important component of biodegradable plastic, "a biodegradable, thermoplastic, aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch (in the U.S.) or sugarcanes (rest of world). Although PLA has been known for more than a century, it has only been of commercial interest in recent years, in light of its biodegradability" (See Wikipedia)
polymer - an important chemical used in the production of many different kinds of products (See Wikipedia)
fossil fuels - "fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural resources such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years..." (See Wikipedia)
fossil polymers - traditional petroleum-based polymers
biopolymer - polymers that are bioplastics
Research and Development, R & D - scientific investigation to develop new consumer goods and services, new inputs into production, new methods of producing goods and services, or new ways of operating and managing organizations (See Wikipedia)
cassava - a plant used to make tapioca and also natural fuel for cars, a crop grown in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy root, a major source of carbohydrates, gives the highest yield of food energy per cultivated area per day among crop plants, except possibly for sugarcane (See Wikipedia)
raw material - a material that is used to manufacture more complex products, for example steel is a raw material used in the manufacturing of automobiles
supplier - a company who sells goods and raw materials to other companies who use them make other (more complicated goods)
supply chain - the steps in different firms and locations needed to produce a final good from raw materials and intermediate goods, ending with final assembly and distribution of goods in consumer stores (See Wikipedia)
downstream industry - an industry at an late stage in the process of producing a product for sale (late in the supply chain)
upstream industry - an industry at an early stage in the process of producing a product for sale (early in the supply chain)
midstream industry - an industry at a middle stage in the process of producing a product for sale (middle of the supply chain)
integrated industry - an industry in which the different stages of production are included together (from raw material to finished product sold in stores)
add value (verb) - adding improvements to a product to increase the product's value
value added (noun) - improvements and extra features added to a product, increased value and price of product from improvements (here: the improvements and increase in value and price that takes place in Thailand, the "local content" see previous article)see previous article)
Value Added Tax (VAT) - a tax on goods bought that (each supplier pays a tax on the value that they add, VAT tax provides an easy way to understand the concept of "add value")
local content - the parts of a product that are made in the country (made locally in Thailand)
local content value - the value of the good added to by manufacturing in Thailand
resuscitate - 1. make something start operating normally and be successful and effective again, 2. help a person start breathing again after they have stopped
Map Ta Phut - one of Thailand's largest industrial estates located in Rayong, shut down by the adminstrative court and the subject of an ongoing battle for over one year
industrial estate, industrial park - a special area especially for factories with special facilities (roads, transportation, water, electricity, waste disposal) (See Wikipedia)
heavy industry - large factories with big machines such as steel mills, chemical plants, refineries, shipbuilding, etc. Formal definition: "Manufacturing activities engaged in the conversion of large volumes of raw materials and partially processed materials into products of higher value; hallmarks of this form of industry are considerable capital investment in large machinery, heavy energy consumption, and final products of relatively low value per unit weight." (See Wikipedia)
light industry - smaller factories with smaller machines, often producing consumer goods such as clothes, shoes, furniture, and household items. Formal Definition: "Manufacturing activities that use moderate amounts of partially processed materials to produce items of relatively high value per unit weight" (See Wikipedia)
venture - a new activity, usually in business, which involves risk or uncertainty ธุริกิจเสี่ยงแต่สามารถทำกำไรได้
joint - done together; belonging to or shared between two or more people ความร่วมมือกัน
joint venture - a business owned and operated by two or more companies
public-private venture - a venture owned and operated by the government and privately owned companies (the government has an advantage in getting a lower rate when borrowing money and also perhaps in making things go more smoothly for the project when passing through government bureaucracy)
ministry - a government department dealing with an area of activity กระทรวง
commit - to promise to do something ให้คำมั่นสัญญา
PTT - " a Thailand-based company engaged in the in upstream petroleum, downstream petroleum, coal business and other related businesses. Its business activities include the exploration for, the development and production of, natural gas, condensate and crude oil through subsidiaries; the procurement, transmission, processing, marketing and distribution of natural gas and gas products; the marketing of refined products through various distribution channels including commercial, retail, reseller and international markets, and the import and export of crude oil, condensate, petroleum feedstock and petrochemical products" (See Google Finance)
PTT Chemical (PTTCH) - the chemical subsidiary of PTT
subsidiary - a smaller company owned by a larger company
Siam Cement Group (SCG) - the largest cement producer in Thailand which "has 5 core business focused in chemicals, paper, cement, building materials, and distribution. This continued development has made SCG a major force in the introduction of new technology and skills to Thailand, as substantial human resource development" (See Wikipedia)
Mitr Phol Group - Thailand's largest sugar producer, Mitr Phol Group established in 1946 (See Wikipedia)
pilot - a small test of a new idea or product or idea before introducing it everywhere
plant - factory
finance - to provide money for something usually in the form of a loan, to expand a business or do a projectจัดหาเงินทุนให้
collectively - involving all the members of a group โดยรวม
source - someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
demand - the need and desire to buy goods and services by households and businesses
promising - likely to be successful มีแนวโน้มที่ดี
awareness - the state of knowing about something การรับรู้, การทราบ
viable - able to work as intended or able to succeed ซึ่งใช้การได้ (แผนการ, คำแนะนำ) ซึ่งประสบผลสำเร็จได้
commercially viable - a business project likely to succeed and not fail
feasible (adjective) - when it is possible to successfully complete a project or task
feasibility study - a study to determine whether a planned project could be completed sucessfully (whether the project will be successful or not)
funding - money given for a particular purpose การให้เงินสนับสนุน
public funding - money given or loaned to a project by the government
generate - create สร้าง กระตุ้นให้เิกิด
investment - taking your money and putting it into projects to make a profit or earn interest (buying stock shares, bonds, real estate)
Return On Investment (ROI) - comparing earnings on a potential investment to alternative uses of the money, to see if the investment is worth making (See Wikipedia on rate of return)
base - a place from where an activity can be planned ฐานที่มั่น
regional base for - a place where the work or production is done for the whole region (completed product then sent to other places within the region)
abundance - to have very large quantities, so that there is enough for everyone (not shortage or scarcity)
extensive - includes a wide variety ที่มีมากมาย
integration - the process of combining with others to create a single unit or system การรวมเข้าด้วยกัน, การผสมผสาน
development - the gradual creation and formation of something
submit - to officially give a document to an organisation, formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
proposal - a plan or suggestion for a group to consider ข้อเสนอ
approval - official permission การอนุมัต
business partners - the companies owning part of the joint venture หุ้นส่วน
executive - the highest level managers in a company
officer - a high level person in an organisation with special responsibilities (a government officer, a police officer, an army officer)
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) - "the highest-ranking corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of total management of an organization. An individual appointed as CEO of a corporation, company, organization, or agency reports to the board of directors" (See Wikipedia)
board of directors - a group of people elected by the shareholders who oversee the high level policy for a company or other organization (See Wikipedia)
consistent - following the same pattern or strategy in your actions and behaviour as before (not changing all the time) อย่างสม่ำเสมอ อย่างเสมอต้นเสมอปลาย
expand - to become larger ขายตัวออกไป
challenge - something that needs a lot of skill, energy, and determination to deal with or achieve สิ่งที่ท้าทาย, การท้าทาย
consumption - goods and services that households or businesses buy การบริโภค
commit - promise to do something
commit money to a project - promise to give money to a project
role - function or position, the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship บทบาท