Strategic sector cooperation under preparation

Wongpanit Suvarnabhumi Recycle Station Foto: Martin Schneekloth

Circular economy and waste management

Denmark and Thailand are preparing for a strategic sector cooperation in the field of circular economy and waste management. The purpose of the cooperation is to contribute to strengthening green and sustainable societal development through increased circular economy and efficient waste management.

Thailand produces approximately 26 million tons of household waste every year, most of which ends up in landfills. Thailand has a population of 71 million people. The country has an annual economic growth of around 3% and a rapidly growing middle class with high purchasing power, indicating continued increased consumption and potentially larger waste amounts. Large parts of the collected waste are deposited in open and often poorly controlled landfills, and the rest ends up in the environment - on land, in waterways, and in the sea.


Wongpanit Suvarnabhumi Recycle Station Foto: Martin Schneekloth

In 2016, Thailand adopted an ambitious waste strategy and invested significant funds in improving waste management. The implementation of the strategy has not had sufficient impact. Thus, the Thai Pollution Control Department estimates that 80% of the approximately 2,700 landfills still do not comply with the regulations, despite official guidelines and financial subsidies.

In 2020, the Thai government adopted a ban on single-use plastic bags and on the import of plastic waste, which, however, is not yet fully enforced.

It is estimated that more than half a million tons of plastic waste is illegally imported into Thailand annually. From 2023, the Thai government has launched a three-step plan, which by 2025 should result in a total ban on the import of plastic waste; an initiative that is part of the overall vision 2018-2030 for sustainable plastic waste management in a circular economy.

Likewise, the Thai environmental authorities are preparing new legislation, which will involve aspects of the circular economy; including greater requirements for manufacturers.

There is potential in a positive Danish-Thai cooperation to minimize and use scarce raw materials more responsibly in the design, manufacturing, and consumption of products, as well as to a much greater extent be able to transform and use waste as a valuable resource. By reducing the amount of waste, promoting recycling, and reuse, we can reduce the use of new raw materials and, not least, minimize negative environmental impacts, improve public health, and create a more sustainable economy. The circular economy breaks with the throwaway culture, and waste is no longer seen as the end of consumption, but as a resource for reuse and for creating new products.

The strategic sector cooperation between Denmark and Thailand is planned to start in 2024, and it is expected to involve Danish and Thai authorities at central and local levels, as well as industry organizations, municipal and private companies, civil society organizations, and universities.