Opportunities for circular bio-economy in Thailand

December 21, 2022

Holland Circular Hotspot, the Netherlands Embassy in Thailand and the Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce jointly organised the webinar, which engaged Dutch and Thai stakeholders interested in collaboration on bioeconomy in Thailand.

Dutch and Thai companies, knowledge institutes and NGOs shared their experiences in developing and adapting innovative technologies to local conditions, creating sustainable new business models, identifying circular opportunities and exchanging knowledge. The event featured was presented in two sections:

  1. Given an overview of the Bio-Circular-Green Economy strategy and introduction to doing business in Thailand by the Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce
  2. Bio-economy opportunities and challenges – inspire with best practices in the sector

Download the Webinar- Circular Bio-economy in Thailand presentation


An overview of the most important information for circular business in Thailand

Highlights of the event: insights from the experts

“Thailand and the Netherlands have a mutual interest in remaining close allies in various aspects; in particular, bioeconomy deserves extra attention as both are world leading producers of agricultural products”, Mr Remco van Wijngaarden, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos said.

During the first part of the webinar, Dr Kuakoon Piyachomwan, Deputy Executive Director, NSTDA, presented the current status and outlook on bio-economy in Thailand through a brief introduction of the Bio-Circular and Green (BCG) economic model, which has been introduced and promoted by the Thai government as a new economic model for inclusive and sustainable growth.

“While Circular Economy aims to reducing at least cycling resources and great economy. It means keeping economy, society and environment in balance, leading to sustainable development based on Thailand’s strength in agricultural activity in natural resources and diversity in terms of biological resources and physical geography,” Piyachomwan said.

Dr Kuakoon introduced the BCG Action Plan by the government, which lays out four main strategies:

  1. Promoting sustainability of biological resources through balancing conservation and utilisation.
  2. Strengthen communities and grassroots economy by employing resource capital, creativity, technology, biodiversity and cultural diversity to create value for products and services.
  3. Upgrade and promote sustainable competitiveness of the Thai BCG industry with knowledge, technology and innovation focusing on green technology.
  4. Create the ability to respond to changing

Mr Hans van den Born, Executive Director of the Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce, introduced how the chamber supports Dutch, Thai, and international businesses through its extensive network, events, information sharing, business-matching and synergies between its members. “From our experience, we see lots of opportunities for Dutch companies willing to expand in Thai and the surrounding countries, taking advantage of the ASEAN trade agreement,” van den Born said.

Best practices: Thai and Dutch circular showcases

The second part of the webinar focused on mapping best practices. Cases from both Thai and Dutch enterprises already operating in Thailand were presented.

Main highlights:

Mr. Rick Passenier, Director at PACE Business Partners

  • When companies and governments are transitioning to a circular economy, waste becomes the first focus. Thailand is no different, with over 2000 waste management sites, many of which currently run in an environmentally unacceptable way; Thailand presents huge opportunities for innovations in this sector.
  • There are huge bio-based feedstock opportunities, for instance, sugarcane is the biggest, both exporting biomass and used a lot for domestic consumption.
  • If they are not converted into food or just commodities, rice, palmer, cassava, and rubber can be converted with biotechnology into high-value chemicals, energy, materials, etc.
  • Food and agriculture solutions, biorefinery and bioprocessing solutions are infrastructural developments being developed in Thailand and could also benefit a lot of Dutch people or companies. For instance,  natural plant fibre products create sustainable packaging solutions.
  • There is an extensive ecosystem in further driving innovations, and leading multinationals and innovative startups are engaged in the circular transition.

Mr Sander van der Linden, President of Corbion Purac

  • Plastics are most of them oil-based. 90% of the feedstock is oil, and therefore it’s using four to 8% of the total oil production in the world every year. We need to find their solutions, and bioplastics are a good way to decouple plastics from fossil feedstock.
  • Corbion is committed to preserving food and food production with a low carbon footprint to find solutions. For instance, the use of corn or sugarcane as raw material to produce lactic acid, which customers already have a wide range of applications such as the beauty industry.
  • Corbion is building a new lactic acid plant with cutting the edge technology in Thailand. We have been keeping investing in the current capacity of 175 kilotons. Since 2007, we invested almost €50 million more.

Mr Luuk Rietvelt, Regional Manager APAC, Harvest Waste

  • Making compost is a relatively low-cost solution, but only if the organic waste is collected separately, yet it is not being done. Making compost out of previously mixed waste is quite dangerous. At Harvest Waste, we often see that organic waste is heavily polluted because people throw batteries and other chemicals in their litter.
  • A starting point based on technology from the Netherlands is the advanced waste-to-energy plants that turn whatever is residual into as much energy as possible, taking care of the bottom ash and then potentially adding sorting and recycling in the cycle. Harvest Waste is a spin-out of public waste management.

Mr Jeremy Timmer, Founder, INFINRG/HoST

  • By representing his own company and the Dutch company HoSt,Jeremy talked about the importance of organic waste into the valuechain through its transformation intorenewable energy commodities in the form of gas and LNG.
  • The needs and common figures between NL businesses and Thailand’s current scenario. Pointed that what is needed for Thailand are investments in overall in technology, and not only in biogas.

Ms. Sawita Tinsuntisook – Secretary, Waste to Energy Trade Association (WETA)

  • In Thailand, we have a plan, especially for renewable energy, the  Alternative Energy Development Plan. However, in terms of waste to energy, biogas and biomass, we still need extra support at the private and governmental levels. In Thailand, we are looking for partners to distribute technology innovations into waste management.

Ms. Lhing W. – Chief Marketing Officer, BioMatLink/Bio Hub Asia.

  • The shift to a complete BCG requires time, we already see significant progress in fields like organic waste to bioenergy and biofuels, and we see huge opportunities for Dutch-Thai collaborations, such as in the example of Corbion and their innovative PLA production here in Thailand, where bio-feedstock supply is already big.
  • The country and the world need the specific infrastructure of facilities to support the BCG model.
  • Biohub Asia will be an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components, and products lose their value as little as possible. The circular economy concept of the issue is carried out with the cooperation of various partners to create a sustainable future altogether.