To tackle the growing garbage problem in Thailand, a company is turning to the country’s plant life.
Universal Biopack manufactures packages that it sells to restaurants and manufacturers. But instead of plastic, he uses a mixture of bamboo and cassava, which are crops widely found throughout the country.
After rapid growth in recent decades, Thailand has become one of Asia’s largest economies. But like many other countries in the region, it has been slow to try to combat the millions of tons of waste produced every year.
“Waste management is a big problem everywhere,” said Universal Biopack managing director, Vara Anung Vishakothen.
The company uses a technology developed at Bangkok University to make its packaging waste-free. She hopes to eventually replace several Styrofoam boxes and plastic bags that end up in huge landfills across Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
It took five years to develop its eco-friendly formula and it is adaptable so it can eventually be used to pack things like furniture and even phones. The bamboo he uses comes from the leftovers of the chopsticks manufacturing process.
In the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where ready-made beverage containers and pasta packages lined sidewalks, the company supplies restaurants, organic farmers and other companies in the food and beverage industry.
But finding new customers can be difficult.
Thai food sellers want to keep costs down in a competitive company with minimal margins. Asking them to spend more on packaging for environmental reasons is difficult to sell.
“The local economy still does not support [this technology]Sothep Vishakothen, founder of Universal Biopack, said.
But this did not prevent other companies from entering the sustainable packaging market in Thailand. Like Universal Biopack, they bet on increasing environmental awareness which ultimately leads to increased demand.
To become more competitive, Suthep invests. It aims to increase production by building a partially automated assembly line at its factory near Bangkok and doubling the number of employees from 50 to 100 people.
The goal is to increase your monthly capacity from 300,000 units to a million.
Much of the demand comes from abroad. One of its customers uses the natural packaging of coconut water that it exports.
Universal Biopack says it also gets an interest in its products from other countries, especially in Scandinavia.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published February 12, 2017: 9:08 PM ET