An Introduction to Circular Economy

Agricultural and Municipal Waste Management in Thailand

Abstract

Circular economy is simply the economic system in which wastes are minimized and resources are best utilized. This approach is aligned with “Bioeconomy, Circular economy and Green economy (BCG)”, one of Thai government’s flagships for national social and economic development plan. In agricultural sector, circular economy concept has long been successfully adopted through waste minimization and renewable concept. Thailand is the ASEAN leader in bioenergy production. One important factor is the government’s long term renewable energy plan which has supported the implementation of bioenergy projects. Recovery as food, energy, fertilizer and other value added products from agricultural wastes are already in commercial practice in agro-processing industry, i.e. sugarcane and palm oil industry as good examples. These provide an excellent foundation to another step of circular economy where more value addition can be extracted along the value chain. On the other hand, achieving circular economy is still far for municipal solid waste (MSW), the more difficult one to manage. Although some fractions are recycled and recovered for energy production and other purposes, large amount of MSW is still not properly disposed. Incineration, which seems to be the best short term solution, often encounters local unacceptance due to environmental concern and the difficult operation due to poor quality unsorted wastes. For sustainable waste management under circular economy concept, considering and planning based on the whole life cycle of MSW as well as raising people awareness to change public behavior on waste generation will be needed for better and easier management.

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