Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Alliance in push for circular economy

Aug 26. 2019
Photo by SCG
Photo by SCG
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By The Nation

Forty-five Thai and foreign organisations from the government and private sectors as well as representatives from local communities recently participated in “SD Symposium 10 Years: Collaboration for Action” in a concerted push for a circular economy.

 The goal is to brainstorm on solutions to the crisis of resource constraints by using the circular economy as a major component with the approach of “Resource maximisation, Waste Separation, and Proper Disposal” to ensure resource efficiency throughout the manufacturing and consumption cycle.

   The symposium aims at creating a sustainable business, combating plastic pollution in the oceans, improving the living of  people in the community, and managing industrial waste. The event  highlighted solutions encompassing infrastructure system, knowledge sharing and innovation as well as technology development and waste treatment. The alliance also pushed forward the proposal on waste management as a national agenda.

   SCG president and chief executive officer Roongrote Rangsiyopash said that with the growing global population estimated to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, it will lead to  rising consumption demands despite finite resources. Data show that Thai people produce an average of 1.15 kilogram of rubbish per person, and the waste generation rate is on the surge. 

   In 2018, Thailand contributed 28 million tonnes of waste. If lacking proper waste management and disposal practices, wastes will leak into the oceans, triggering the loss of marine biodiversity as   evidenced by the death of young dugong Mariam. Hence, the concept of the circular economy is a solution to help alleviate these problems as it promotes the regenerative model of make-use-return. This concept also includes the approach of “resource maximisation, waste separation, and proper disposal” to preserve natural resource and pass it to the next generations, he said.

  Throughout the past year, SCG  incorporated circular economy principles into its business activities under three strategies: 1 Reduced material use and durability by reducing resource use in the manufacturing and developing products with extended usage duration  such as micro flute corrugated packaging which is attractive, durable but requires less paper and the development of PE112 plastic resins for submarine pipeline construction to supply freshwater to Koh Samui. The pipes have improved pressure resistance, thinner walls and less plastic used; 2 Upgrade and replace by developing innovation to replace existing products and raw materials with new ones that offer higher efficiency while minimising resource usage or making them recycle-friendly. It includes developing building materials that eliminate waste generation such as modular toilet, precast wall, cut-to-size autoclaved aerated concrete, fest food packaging to substitute foam container, and flexible packaging that is durable and easily recyclable, and the development of plastic resins used as automotive components which is lighter in weight yet provide strength and energy-saving benefits; 3 Reuse and recycle by enhancing recyclability such as  developing product with higher proportion of recycled materials in the production, partnering with modern retail trade and supermarkets to collect used boxes and paper to increase recycling, and developing plastic formulation which allows a mixture of higher proportion of recycled plastics by leveraging SMX Technology. This innovation can enhance recycled plastic properties which now makes up 30 per cent  of plastic resin materials used in the manufacturing.

  In 2018, SCG converted about 313,000 tonnes of industrial waste per year into renewable raw materials and turned 131,000 tonnes of industrial waste  into fuel substitution.

  This year,  SCG has continued to integrate circular economy principles into product manufacturing and has set the target of reducing the production of single-use plastic from 46 per cent to 20 per cent by 2025 and increasing the proportion of recyclable plastic packaging to 100 per cent by 2025, he said.

  However, to achieve the goal of a circular economy, government-driven infrastructure development, stringent regulations, and strict waste management will not be enough to drive changes. “Collaboration” of all sectors is a crucial element to make the circular economy a reality. It is a pleasure to see the dedication of 45 network partners from five global organisations, three government agencies, 29 businesses, and eight  schools and communities coming together to create models in compliance with circular economy principles to tangibly maximise resource usage and solve waste problems from upstream to downstream operations, ," Roongrote comcluded. 

   The “SD Symposium 10 Years: Circular Economy - Collaboration for Action” is held to forge collaboration of all sectors, the vital driving force to establish a circular economy in Thailand and achieve sustainable development goals. 

  The symposium was attended by Thai Prime Minister  Prayut Chan-o-cha, representatives from the United Nations, WBCSD and leading organisations from Thailand and abroad.  Moreover, the event also featured discussions on lesson learned from success stories of all sectors for further implementation.

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