He recently chaired a meeting of a sub-committee on plastic and electronic waste management, saying the panel looked into the production capacity of plastic scrap-related factories, reports the Bangkok Post.
Members also listened to suggestions by stakeholders about the ban on the import of plastic scrap for raw materials in the industrial sector.
The ban has been discussed since 2020, and it’s now time to make it real, he said.
He said the panel agreed that 14 plants located in free trade zones would be able to import plastic scrap until 2024 in two phases.
The first phase is to start next year to limit the amount of imported plastic scrap based on actual production capacities.
However, companies will still be allowed to fully import the scrap they need.
The second phase will start in 2024, when only 50% of imports are allowed, Mr Varawut said, adding a total ban will start in 2025.
For plants outside of the free trade zone, plans to import plastic scraps must be approved by the panel.
They will not allowed to import plastic scraps in 2025, he said. It is unclear what effect the ban will have on industry.
"Thailand must not be a dump site for plastic waste,” he said. “By the end of the next three years, we will not allow any import of plastic scraps from around the world.
“We need to protect our country,” he added. “This is a significant step to make our country clean from plastic waste.”
He said the Department of Pollution Control will draft a 2023–2027 plastic waste management plan, focusing on four key areas, including removing plastic waste from landfills for recycling by 2027, he said.
The minister also said the country produces 24.98 million tonnes of household waste per year, and only 32% is properly managed.
The ministry aims to reduce plastic waste yearly via a campaign to curb single-use plastic bags in department stores and convenience stores nationwide.
The campaign has managed to reduce plastic bag usage by 43%, or 150,000 tonnes, during the last two years, he said.