Khon Kaen University, in collaboration with the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Substance Management, Chulalongkorn University, both public and private sectors, organized an academic seminar titled “Unlocking the Plastics Circular Economy” on Friday, June 9, 2023 at the Berkeley Hotel Pratunam, Bangkok. This event is part of the project “Enhancing Cooperation between Thailand and South Korea in Creating an Innovative Circular Economy for Sustainable Smart Cities,” which is supported by the Program Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMUC). The project aims to establish a plastic waste management system under the concept of the Circular Economy, leveraging technology to develop plastic waste tracking systems and smart bins. This will promote systematic plastic waste management in Thailand.
The event was honored by the presence of government officials, including Dr. Julapong Taweesri, Director-General of the Department of Industrial Works, Mr. Chaiya Boonchit, Deputy Director of the Waste and Hazardous Substance Management Bureau, Pollution Control Department, and Mr. Pornprom Wikitsett, advisor to the Governor of Bangkok (Environment Division). They participated in a special panel discussion on “A Vision for a Future Free from Plastic Pollution,” presenting the government’s perspective on plastic waste management. Furthermore, a plenary session on “Unlocking the Plastics Circular Economy: Waste Value Chain” brought together stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, and educational institutions, serving as the starting point to establish a collaborative network to efficiently address the plastic waste issue.
Prof. Wanida Kaenakat, head of the research project and Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Khon Kaen University, discussed the project’s objectives. These objectives include promoting collaboration between Thailand and South Korea to introduce Thai innovations into the Southeast Asian regional market, developing prototype innovations through Thai-South Korean collaboration, applying these innovations in Thai pilot areas, and proposing guidelines for future plastic waste management systems, focusing on single-use plastic reduction, smart bin technology, and recycling strategies. The project’s findings indicate that learning from international experts and exchanging experiences can contribute to the development of efficient and sustainable plastic waste management.
Additionally, the project has experimented with the use of Digital Circular Economy (DCE) in tracking plastic waste, employing artificial intelligence (AI) to categorize plastic waste efficiently and guide them to the appropriate management systems. The project aims to involve the business sector in the plastic recycling process and educate the public towards a sustainable, low-carbon city.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chaleeda Bromphichaichattikul, Deputy Director of the PMUC, discussed the mission of organization, which allocates research funding to promote innovations that enhance the competitiveness of Thailand’s manufacturing and service sectors. The research and innovation efforts are intended to drive the biobased, circular, and green economy, particularly through the implementation of BCG in Action (BCG Model) for researchers and private sector participants. This project marks the beginning of a network and prototype development for an AI system to aid in plastic waste separation, tracking, and the study of motivating factors and behaviors of consumers, leading to long-term changes in plastic waste categorization and management.