To address the growing waste problem in Thailand, a company is turning to the country's flora.
Universal Biopack produces packaging that is sold to restaurants and manufacturers. Instead of plastic, however, a mixture of bamboo and cassava is used, which is widespread across the country.
Thailand has grown rapidly in recent decades and has become one of the largest economies in Asia. But like in many other countries in the region, fighting the millions of tons of garbage that are produced every year is slow.
"Waste disposal is a big problem everywhere," said Universal Biopack General Manager Vara-Anong Vichakyothin.
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The company uses technology developed at a university in Bangkok to manufacture its waste-free packaging. She hopes that she will eventually replace many of the styrofoam boxes and plastic bags that end up in huge dumps in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
The development of the eco-friendly formula has taken five years and is so adaptable that it may be used to pack furniture and even phones. The bamboo it uses comes from remnants of the stick manufacturing process.
The company supplies restaurants, organic farmers and other companies in the food and beverage industry in the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
However, finding new customers can be difficult.
Take-away grocers in Thailand want to keep costs down in a competitive, low-margin business. It is difficult to ask them to spend more on packaging for environmental reasons.
"The local economy still doesn't support [this technology]"said Universal Biopack founder Suthep Vichakyothin.
However, that does not prevent other companies from entering the sustainable packaging market in Thailand. Like Universal Biopack, they rely on growing environmental awareness, which ultimately leads to increasing demand.
Sutheps invests in companies to become more competitive. The aim is to increase production by building a partially automated assembly line in the factory near Bangkok and doubling the workforce from 50 to 100 employees.
The goal is to increase the monthly capacity from 300,000 units to one million.
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Much of the demand comes from abroad. One of his customers uses the natural packaging for coconut water that he exports.
Universal Biopack says it is also interested in its products from other countries, especially Scandinavia.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published on February 12, 2017: 9:08 p.m. ET