Thailand strictly bans plastic waste imports by 2025

In early 2018, the Thai government implemented a ban on the import of most types of plastic waste, including unsorted plastic waste and contaminated plastic waste. The ban was introduced in response to concerns about the environmental and health impacts of plastic waste, and to promote more sustainable waste management practices in the country.

The ban was reinforced in 2019, with the government issuing stricter regulations on the import of plastic waste. The regulations require importers to provide detailed information about the type and quality of the plastic waste they wish to import and to obtain permission from the relevant government agencies before importing any plastic waste.

Imported goods inspectors find a large amount of contaminated material (Jul 27, 2022)

Despite the ban and regulations, there have been reports of illegal imports of plastic waste into Thailand, which have led to environmental and health concerns. The government has taken steps to crack down on illegal imports and to promote more sustainable waste management practices in the country.

Overall, while the import of plastic waste to Thailand is not allowed under current regulations, there have been instances of illegal imports that have raised concerns about the need for stronger enforcement and more sustainable waste management practices in the country.

At last, the Cabinet has passed a resolution that starting from December 31, 2024, Thailand will ban the import of plastic waste from abroad, with the Ministry of Commerce issuing a regulation designating plastic waste as a prohibited item to be imported into the kingdom.

For the import of plastic waste into the free trade zone (during the years 2023-2024), it is only allowed for the 14 designated industrial factories, which are all using plastic waste as raw material for export in the free trade zone, with import quantities not exceeding actual production capacity, totaling 372,994 tons per year.

Plastic handle bag

For year one (2023), imports are allowed at 100 percent of actual production capacity, and for year two (2024), imports are limited to no more than 50 percent of actual production capacity, with environmental control measures in place to prevent pollution in the country. For example, imported plastic waste must be separated by type, not mixed, and can be imported into the manufacturing process without the need for cleaning. It must be used only as a raw material for export.

As for the import of plastic waste into the general area (during the years 2023-2024), it is only allowed in cases where there is no plastic waste in the country or the quantity is insufficient, and with criteria such as the factory operators must show evidence of the necessity of importation and that it cannot be found domestically, imports are in accordance with production capacity, and imports are for use as raw material only (excluding sorting or shredding of plastic waste). Imported plastic waste can be used in the manufacturing process without cleaning.

With a strong commitment to maintaining environmental quality and controlling pollution for the health benefits of all Thai people, the government has approved policies to regulate the import of plastic waste and emphasized controlling the import quantity in line with the policy of promoting plastic waste recycling in the country. This is to prevent smuggling and control plastic manufacturing businesses from causing environmental impact during the period of 2023-2024.

This policy is a good starting point for Thailand to reduce the amount of waste and minimize the environmental impact caused by plastic waste. However, we as ordinary citizens should not forget to work together to create a good awareness of reducing the unnecessary use of plastic.