Waste management is a pressing environmental issue faced by most countries. Due to improper management, Thailand’s waste has been accumulating from the past and the volume has been increasing every year, except for the years 2020-2021 when the amount of waste decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. However, as the pandemic situation subsided and economic and tourism activities resume, it is expected that the volume of waste in Thailand will significantly increase, reaching levels of the year 2019 when 28.71 million tons of waste were generated. Packaging waste, i.e., materials that were used to contain, protect, handle, deliver, and/or present goods but are no longer needed after the product is consumed, contributes to a significant component of municipal solid waste, second only to food waste. According to a 2021 survey on the composition of waste at disposal sites, recyclable waste (paper, plastic, metal, and glass) accounted for 39.9%, while food waste and garden waste that could be composted accounted for 47.8%. Currently, there is a trend among manufacturers to increase the use of plastic packaging, while the recycling rate for plastic waste remains low. This is particularly true for multi-layer packaging, such as beverage cartons and plastic sachets lined with aluminum foil, which are difficult to recycle. Consequently, most plastic packaging and multi-layer packaging end up in landfills, with some leaking into the environment and harming ecosystems.

Thailand’s current waste management approach largely follows the traditional linear economy model, where local governments (LGUs) are responsible for collecting, transporting, and disposing of waste within their jurisdictions. Overall, most LGUs have not been able to manage waste effectively, and there is a lack of efforts for promoting waste reduction and systematic, at-source segregation. Additionally, LGUs have not been able to manage end-of-pipe waste properly and safely. This is evident from the Pollution Situation Report 2021, which showed that only 6% (116 out of 2,137) of municipal solid waste disposal sites were managed properly.


Introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility

Addressing the waste management challenge requires a shared responsibility among all sectors – government, citizens, and businesses. Many countries have adopted the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which mandates that producers share responsibility for the packaging and products they put on the market throughout the lifecycle of those products. This approach, combined with a circular economy model that emphasizes resource recovery and reuse, can effectively address the waste problem. Implementing EPR in Thailand requires enacting legislation that promotes eco-friendly packaging and product design, facilitates reuse, and establishes a packaging waste take-back system operated by producers themselves or producer representative organizations. This system could involve collaboration with LGUs, distributors, and waste collectors to minimize the leakage of packaging waste into the environment.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principles are gaining traction in Thailand’s waste management strategies, as evidenced by their inclusion in various policy documents. These include the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation’s BCG Model 2021-2027 policy and action plan, the Draft National Waste Management Action Plan for 2022-2027, and the Draft National Plastic Waste Management Action Plan Phase 2 for 2023-2027. Pollution Control Department’s plans have also incorporated EPR principles and propose measures to develop a circular economy law that applies EPR to packaging waste management.

In the private sector, there has also been a growing movement towards EPR. Since 2019, a group of private companies came together to voluntarily establish the Packaging Recovery Organization Thailand Network (PRO-Thailand Network). The network was officially launched in June 2023 with the aim of supporting and co-creating a system for collecting and recycling used packaging. This initiative seeks to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the environment. The PRO-Thailand Network currently has seven member companies: Coca-Cola (Thailand) Limited, Suntory PepsiCo Beverage (Thailand) Limited, Tetra Pak (Thailand) Limited, Thai Nam Tip Corporation Limited, Nestlé (Thailand) Limited, Pepsi-Cola (Thailand) Trading Limited, and SIG Combibloc Limited. Through a pilot project launched in 2020 and ongoing until 2022, PRO-Thailand Network has successfully collected and recycled three types of used packaging: PET plastic bottles, Ultra-high-temperature (UHT) treated beverage cartons (e.g., milk, juice, coconut milk cartons), and flexible packaging (e.g., snack bags, refill pouches, coffee sachets). The network’s efforts have resulted in the collection of 25,134.15 tons of PET bottles, 180.49 tons of UHT treated beverage cartons, and 78.56 tons of used flexible packaging. And from 2021, Thailand Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for the Environment (TIPMSE), under the auspices of the Federation of Thai Industries, has launched a pilot EPR packaging project in three areas of Chonburi province, Thailand: Saen Suk Municipality, Ban Bueng Municipality, and Ko Si Chang Municipality. The project, known as PackBack, aims to promote sustainable packaging management by bringing together stakeholders from various sectors, including local communities, informal recyclers, scrap dealers, and mid- and large-scale collectors. The PackBack project serves as a model for developing a nationwide EPR system. The project will gather valuable lessons and data that will inform the drafting of legislation to expand EPR implementation to other areas. The TIPMSE has also collaborated with Kasetsart University to develop a research project to support a future EPR system and organized seminars on EPR mechanism on Sustainable Packaging Act. This project involves analyzing the material flow of five types of packaging, evaluating the cost throughout the packaging value chain, and assessing the environmental impact of managing these five types of packaging waste. The findings will serve as a data base for developing a nationwide EPR system.


Draft for Sustainable Packaging Management Act

In 2023, the Pollution Control Department entrusted Mae Fah Luang University with drafting a Sustainable Packaging Management Act based on the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principle, which seeks to involve the industry in managing packaging throughout its lifecycle, from design, distribution to usage, and disposal. The EPR approach aims to alleviate the burden on local administrations, which have traditionally been responsible for managing used packaging through the municipal solid waste system. Later, on March 2024, the Pollution Control Department has posted the draft version of Sustainable Packaging Act for public hearing. This draft regulation has four main sections and 53 articles which can be summarized as below.

Initially, the proposed regulation provides definition of terms used in the draft regulation, such as “sustainable packaging managmement”, “used packaging”, “Entrepreneur responsible for sustainable packaging management”, “Agency responsible for sustainable packaging management.”


The first section is relating to policy on sustainable packaging promotion. This regulation will set up Sustainable Packaging Management Policy Committee with deputy prime minister as chair and permanent secretery of Natural Resource and Environment as committee secretary. The committee has duty on set up a policy on sustainable packaging management as well as approval of Sustainable Packaging Management Promotion Plan. Sustainable packaging management promotion plan should contain components below,

  1. Goals for the collection and reuse of used packaging and other goals that support sustainable packaging management
  2. Measures to support and promote sustainable packaging management
  3. Establishing measures for the management of used packaging to support sustainable packaging management
  4. Establishing guidelines for the operation of relevant government agencies in line with sustainable packaging management
  5. Guidelines for setting standards for sustainable packaging management in accordance with international principles
  6. Knowledge dissemination process to raise awareness among entrepreneurs and the public about the importance of sustainable packaging management


The second section is relating to sustainable packaging management. This regulation will set up Sustainable Packaging Management Committee with Minister of Natural Resource and Environment as chair and Director General of Pollution Control Department as secretary. The committee has duty on sustainable packaging management measures as following,

  1. Provide recommendations to the Minister on the development of a policy to promote sustainable packaging management.
  2. Formulate a plan to promote sustainable packaging management.
  3. Determine the types and categories of packaging that must be collected for reuse.
  4. Establish criteria for prohibiting the production or import of single-use packaging that causes leakage into the environment.
  5. Determine the types and categories of packaging for which a compensation fee must be paid for environmental impact, and the fee rates.
  6. Designate certain types or categories of packaging as requiring mandatory buy-back or deposit and refund systems for management.
  7. Establish the format, type, conditions, method of labeling, or symbols for packaging that must be managed sustainably.
  8. Establish criteria or conditions for the use of containers in purchasing products to reduce consumer packaging consumption.
  9. Establish criteria, methods, and conditions for the registration of entrepreneurs responsible for sustainable packaging management and reporting data on the volume of packaging introduced to the market.
  10. Establish guidelines for promoting the use of packaging based on the principles of environmentally friendly design and material selection.
  11. Establish criteria, methods, and conditions for the approval and monitoring of sustainable packaging management plans.
  12. Establish guidelines for setting fees for the management of used packaging by organizations responsible for sustainable packaging management.
  13. Propose amendments or improvements to laws related to sustainable packaging management, including measures to support and promote sustainable packaging management, to the Sustainable Packaging Management Policy Committee.
  14. Establish measures to strengthen cooperation and coordination among government agencies, state enterprises, public organizations, and the private sector on sustainable packaging management.
  15. Implement measures to improve the efficiency and standards of the environmental management system for reuse processes under relevant laws to support sustainable packaging management.
  16. Implement measures to control the import and export of used packaging under relevant laws for the benefit of sustainable packaging management.
  17. Submit an annual report on the implementation of the policy and plan to promote sustainable packaging management to the Sustainable Packaging Management Policy Committee.


This section also states duties of government agencies as followed,

  1. Reduce the use of packaging that is difficult to manage or has a significant environmental impact, or switch to use of packaging or materials derived from reuse processes within an agency or in activities or projects for which it is responsible.
  2. Consider procuring products that use packaging with minimum use of raw materials or materials or increased proportion of recycled materials in packaging, in accordance with criteria announced by the Minister with the approval of the Cabinet.
  3. Separate used packaging from other waste before handing it over to the responsible authority for disposal.
  4. Raise awareness among the public and the private sector about reducing packaging use and sorting used packaging through educational and public activities, and strive for cooperation in implementation.


Responsibility of designated manufacturers are as followed,

  1. Use packaging in accordance with environmentally friendly design and material selection principles, as outlined in the guidelines.
  2. Display a label or symbol for packaging that requires sustainable management.
  3. Collect and utilize used packaging through reuse, repurposing, industrial decomposition, energy conversion, or safe disposal.
  4. Manage packaging through mandatory buy-back systems or deposit and refund systems, as announced by the Minister.
  5. Communicate and provide information to consumers and the public to promote the sorting of used packaging and the return of used packaging for sustainable management.


The third section is relating to supervising. This section authorizes officer according to this regulation to enter such establishment and issue letter order to related parties.


After public hearing, Pollution Control Department will modify this draft regulation according to comments received, then submit to cabinet for approval. After that, the council of the state will review and modified regulation before circulating it among related government agencies. The last step of the journey is to be considered by house of representatives before being submitted to the king for signing.