EU Experts visit Thailand to exchange knowledge and best practices on Circular Economy and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in Packaging

On 5 September 2023, the Royal Thai Embassy in Brussels and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand hosted a Workshop on “Thai-EU Experts’ Exchange on Circular Economy and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in Packaging”, in collaboration with the Pollution Control Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), the Thailand Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for Sustainable Environment (TIPMSE) under the Federation of Thai Industries, and the German Agency for International Development (GIZ). The Workshop also received support from the Environmental Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University, and the Research Center on Circular Economy for Waste-free Thailand (CEWT), Mae Fah Luang University.

This workshop at VIE Hotel, Bangkok, aimed to promote an exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices between EU and Thai experts to support Thailand’s establishment of a mandatory EPR system, which is a key component of Thailand’s Action Plan for Waste Management Phase II (2023-2027). The event was attended by over 80 participants from government agencies, industry representatives, academia, and civil society. Several of them were members of Thailand’s Packaging EPR Steering Committee, a multi-stakeholder platform which was set up by the MONRE to help drive the establishment of the EPR system in Thailand. Furthermore, representatives from the diplomatic corps and several international development organizations were present as we work together towards a more circular economy and the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

            H.E. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador of Thailand to Belgium and Luxembourg, and Head of Mission to the European Union, delivered the welcoming remarks. He informed the audience about the increasing dynamism of Thai-EU relations particularly following the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the resumption of the FTA negotiations. Thailand and the EU will mutually support each other in achieving our shared goals towards the green transition and resource-efficient economy.  

Dr. Pinsak Suraswadi, Director-General of the Pollution Control Department, joined Ambassador in delivering the welcoming remarks. He informed that Thailand is currently pushing for the enactment of legislation on packaging waste, so that such waste can be brought into the circular economy. EPR is one mechanism that contributes to a circular economy by transforming waste back into resources and encouraging producers to give more consideration towards product design.

Mr. Asi Mamanee, Director-General of the Department of European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then delivered the opening remarks, highlighting Thailand’s active role in advancing sustainability. To achieve this goal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strives to connect Thai stakeholders with international expertise to accelerate the dissemination of knowledge and capacity building. The Ministry hopes that Thailand would be able to learn from Europe’s experience and to discuss concerns with regard to trade barriers on environmental standards.

The three EU experts who joined the Workshop are namely (1) Mr. Frithjof Laubinger, Environmental Economist, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), (2) Mr. Tjaco Twigt, Sea the Future Project Director for the Netherlands, Minderoo Foundation, and (3) Mr. Kyriakos Parpounas, Environmental Engineer from Cyprus. All of them underlined the need for participation from all sectors of society and the need for continuous adjustments in the establishment of an effective EPR system for the transition to the Circular Economy.

In the coming days, the EU experts will hold further discussions with the Thai relevant agencies and experts. They will also meet other key actors including the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Wongpanit Suvarnabhumi Recycle Station, to help advance the development of Thailand’s EPR scheme.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga