Thailand's petrochemicals industry is spending more than 20 billion baht ($640 million) to upgrade facilities and improve the environment during the next five years.
A commitment of 19 billion baht ($607 million) is coming from the private sector to improve plant efficiencies and cut pollution, said Pipop Pruecksamars, executive director of the Bangkok-based Petroleum Institute of Thailand.
``We are installing air-quality monitoring equipment in major industries to ensure healthy air space,'' he said in a recent interview in Bangkok.
The government has budgeted 1 billion baht ($31 million) for environmental improvements, especially around the Map Ta Phut industrial region, southeast of Bangkok. Meanwhile, industrial parks are expected to invest 350 million baht ($11.2 million) on environmental issues between 2007 and 2012. Pollution in the Map Ta Phut region is a concern, Pruecksamars said.
``We have started several programs to educate the people on several environment-related issues,'' he said. He added that dialogues are being held regularly among government agencies, some 40 manufacturing companies in the petrochemicals industry, and the public sector.
In the past, the Thai government has delayed some industrial projects because of environmentalists' concerns. But now environmentalists and the government are looking more favorably on new projects, including major petrochemicals expansions.
The Petroleum Institute of Thailand has been working with industry to collaborate on essential issues like waste management and recycling. Thai processors use recycled materials in products such as trash cans, trash bags and floor mats, he said.
``We like to see the industry work for mutual benefits and cooperate on jointly managing industrial waste,'' Pruecksamars said.
Efforts are under way to make Thailand's petrochemicals and plastics industries, comprising about 4,000 downstream and finished-product producers, conform to global standards, he said.