Single-use plastic is making a comeback, as Thais order takeout and delivery in soaring volumes because of the pandemic.
This was supposed to be the year Thailand started to phase out single-use plastic bags. In line with the government’s plastic waste reduction roadmap. At the start of 2020, major retailers agreed to stop offering plastic bags. A policy that was supposed to be extended to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Despite this, the rise of delivery has inspired a surge in demand for plastic bags. Not just for plastic bags, but other forms of plastic packaging as well.
Demand for plastic bags growing rapidly
Surasak Luangaramsri, vice-chairman and the spokesperson of the plastic industry club under the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said demand for food packaging products and the flexible packaging has grown rapidly in the past few months.
“The plastic industry in Thailand, especially for food and beverage, has benefited from the outbreak,” he says.
There are many types of flexible packaging such as film extrusion that are used mostly for food and beverages such as bags, bottles and film.
The club said before the virus break out plastic makers had converted factory plants to produce packaging; hand sanitiser gel bottle; and face shield products instead of single-use plastics to serve domestic demand growth.
“As the plastic makers converted their plants to new products after major retailers banned plastic bags, they could not respond to the growing demand fast enough and supply was delayed,” says Mr Surasak.
TPBI, Thailand’s top plastic maker, says there company has seen growing revenue from plastic bags and packaging since March. Sales volume has increased 40-50% with gains in domestic sales and exports.
In the food packaging category, TPBI saw a 10% increase in sales when shutdowns began, pushing many into panic-buying groceries.
According to the Bangkok Post, Eka Global, a Thai plastic packaging company, says its doubled production of its longevity plastic packaging.
Chaiwat Nantiruj, chairman and group chief executive, says the ready-to-eat, pet food and e-commerce markets boosted demand growth for plastic packaging products.
The production facility in China with a capacity of 20 million pieces per month has resumed operations. After being shut down for the outbreak.