Without good waste management, it is expected that there will be up to 12 billion tonnes of plastic garbage in the environment in 2050, said Kare Helge Karstensen, chief scientist and manager of the Ocean Plastic Turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy (OPTOCE) project under the Norwegian Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research.
He was speaking at a two-day OPTOCE regional forum in Bangkok, which ended on Oct 28, in a move to seek joint solutions from the business sector in Thailand, China, India, Myanmar and Vietnam.
OPTOCE focuses on awakening local cement businesses to their potential in helping the country reduce plastic waste by using it as a fuel to replace coal in cement production.
This is a win-win solution because companies can depend less on fossil fuel while supporting campaigns to reduce plastic waste and carbon dioxide emissions.
Last year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed during the 26th UN Climate Change Conference that Thailand would be more aggressive in addressing climate change and strive to reach carbon neutrality, a balance between carbon dioxide emissions and absorption, by 2050.
Using plastic waste in the manufacturing process shares an eco-friendly idea with the circular economy, which involves upcycling to make value-added products.
The circular economy is part of bio-, circular and green economic (BCG) development, declared a national agenda by the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration.
BCG encourages manufacturers to adopt techniques that can add value to products via methods that have no or minimal impact on the environment.
Viraj Klewpatinond, chairman of the Plastic Industry Club under the Federation of Thai Industries, said the club is working with schools and communities countrywide to promote the sorting of plastic garbage for recycling.
The club also uses digital technology to boost its efforts through the launch of "Recycle Plastics", a mobile phone application to facilitate trade in plastic waste.
"This project is another effort after the government launched a project to use recycled plastic to make 'green' plastics under the circular economy," said Mr Viraj.