Thai company makes food packaging out of bamboo to cut down on trash
Universal Biopack manufactures packaging which it sells to restaurants and manufacturers. But rather than plastic, it uses a mixture of bamboo and cassava, crops widely used across the country.
After experiencing rapid growth in recent decades, Thailand has become one of the largest economies in Asia. But like many other countries in the region, it has been slow to try to tackle the millions of tonnes of waste produced each year.
“Waste management is a big problem everywhere,” said Universal Biopack general manager Vara-Anong Vichakyothin.
To tackle the growing waste problem in Thailand, a company turns to the plant life of the country.
The company uses technology developed at a university in Bangkok to manufacture its zero-waste packaging. He hopes to eventually replace many of the polystyrene plastic boxes and bags that end up in huge landfills across Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Its eco-friendly formula has taken five years to develop and is so adaptable that it could end up being used to pack things like furniture and even phones. The bamboo he uses comes from the remains of the baguette manufacturing process.
In the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where takeout containers and noodle packages line the sidewalks, the company supplies restaurants, organic farmers and other food and beverage companies. .
But finding new customers can be tricky.
Takeaway vendors in Thailand want to cut costs in a competitive business with low margins. Asking them to spend more on packaging for environmental reasons is a difficult sale.
“The local economy still does not support [this technology]”said Universal Biopack founder Suthep Vichakyothin.
But that hasn’t stopped other companies from entering the sustainable packaging market in Thailand. Like Universal Biopack, they are betting on increasing environmental awareness, ultimately leading to increased demand.
To become more competitive, the Suthep company is investing. It aims to speed up production by building a partially automated assembly line in its factory near Bangkok and doubling its workforce from 50 to 100 people.
The goal is to increase monthly capacity from 300,000 units to one million.
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Much of the demand comes from abroad. One of his clients uses the natural packaging of the coconut water he exports.
Universal Biopack says it is also interested in its products in other countries, particularly in Scandinavia.