Thai Beverage Industry Association (TBA) with the support of The Coca-Cola system in Thailand, Suntory PepsiCo Beverage (Thailand) Company Limited and Nestlé (Thai) Ltd. Company in partnership with Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited have announced their collaboration to further encourage regulation amendment that will allow the use of recycled PET in food and beverage packaging in Thailand. The partners are also working with the Thailand Risk Assessment Center: TRAC, the Nutrition Promotion Foundation under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University on research to understand consumer behavior in relation to their plastic consumption and specifically their practices after consumption that can render that plastic unsuitable for recycling. The aim of this study is to develop the right protocol and direction for rPET usage, a part of sustainable plastic waste management that also ensures consumer confidence in product safety.
Veera Akraputtiporn, Vice Chairman and President of TBA, said: “In its position at the very heart of the cooperation among members of the non-alcohol beverage industry, the Association realizes the importance of its role in helping to solve the plastic waste problem. Packaging in particular is a vital component in delivering fresh and quality drinks to consumers safely. However, packaging can also become a big environmental issue if it is not being disposed of or recycled properly. Today, beverage manufacturers in Thailand have no other options but to use 100% virgin plastic because the regulations prohibit the use of recycled plastic in food-contact packaging. As a result, our members simply cannot reduce the use of virgin plastic in this regard even if they want to.”
Thailand currently prohibits the use of recycled PET in food and beverage packaging even though many sectors and industries have become increasingly aware of the necessity for and benefits of rPET usage in recent years. The Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already set up a committee to review the Notification of the Ministry of Public Health (No. 295) B.E. 2548 (Y2005), Clause 8, which states: “It is prohibited to use plastic containers made from re-used plastic with the exception of use for packing fruits with peel.” The committee has studied academic research and guidelines from many countries on recycled PET, but suggests an intensive survey be carried out to better understand the issue and Thai consumer behavior. The Thailand Risk Assessment Center (TRAC), the Nutrition Promotion Foundation under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University were assigned to take the lead in the survey, which is being supported by TBA with funding from its members, namely the Coca-Cola system in Thailand, Suntory PepsiCo Beverage (Thailand) Company Limited and Nestlé (Thai) Ltd. Company along with Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited as a supply partner.
Assoc. Prof. Songsak Srianujata, Advisor, Thailand Risk Assessment Center: TRAC and Senior Advisor, Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University, said: “Globally, plastic waste is a major problem, especially in Thailand and ASEAN countries where is it considered among the top issues faced. Plastic packaging, especially PET bottles, is durable, light-weight and low cost, which is why some consumers reuse the PET bottles by filling them with cleaning liquids or other unsafe chemicals that have raised concerns requiring more data upon which to make an informed decision. Before allowing the use of recycled PET in food-contact packaging in Thailand, it is first necessary to conduct an in-depth study of consumer behavior to assess the said risks. The Institute of Nutrition research team lead by Asst. Prof. Chaniphun Butryee will carry out the study as well as evaluate the effectiveness of the recycling process in the countries where rPET is widely used. All the information obtained will be reviewed and used in the development of guidelines to determine the safety standards of rPET pellets for beverage packaging production in Thailand.”
Mr. Richard Jones, Senior Vice President, Head Office HR, Corporate Communications, CSR & Sustainability, Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, said: “As the world’s largest manufacturer of PET packaging, Indorama Ventures realizes its role in encouraging sustainable and safe use of plastics. The company is supporting this collaboration as we also strongly believe that PET packaging serves an important function as containers for food and beverages and provides convenience and safety to consumers. Because of its efficient attributes, PET is used across the industry and rPET usage will contribute to reducing the effects from sole reliance on virgin plastic. As an exporter of rPET pellets, we can guarantee the advances in cleansing, sanitizing and sterilizing technologies of a global standard in the current recycling process. rPET has been used in many countries such as the United States of America, the European Union countries and Japan for several years and it is time for Thailand to also evaluate this. Nevertheless, we agree that any amendment to the regulation should be based on solid scientific evidence to ensure that consumer safety will not be compromised.”
In 2018, 185,000 tons of PET beverage bottles made from virgin plastic were supplied to the Thai market and less than half of these bottles were collected for proper recycling. Some of the remaining bottles ended up in landfills while others unfortunately leaked into the environment making plastic waste one of the current top global agendas. Allowing rPET in food grade packaging is thus one of the many actions that Thailand can take to help overcome this challenge.
“The partnership between leading beverage manufactures which are normally competitors, a world-class plastic packaging producer, and a reputable academic institution is a key stepping stone and signals a strong commitment to making the needed change for a better world. We are confident that if the regulation is eventually amended as we hope, there will be a significant movement in the Thai beverage industry. TBA hopes to see support from different sectors to reduce the production and use of virgin plastic, which will eventually lead to a sustainable solution to plastic waste management,” Veera concluded.
Source: Indorama Ventures
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