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Green products from harvest waste in Thailand

Christian Uhlig
December 27, 2019

In Jaruwan Khammuang's home village, leftover straw from the harvest was often burned. The young entrepreneur saw an opportunity to create green products from the waste — such as tableware.

DW Global Ideas | Beitrag aus Thailand | Reis-Stroh
Image: DW/C. Uhlig

Thailand: Turning straw into gold

Project goal: The small business Fang Thai is exploring green alternatives to the treatment of agricultural waste products. The SEED initiative promotes small companies that save greenhouse gases with sustainable solutions, create job opportunities and contribute to economic development as green and social companies.

Project scope: Fang Thai is one of six winners of the SEED Low Carbon Awards 2019. The winners receive financial support, benefit from national and international advertising opportunities and get help refining their business models.

Project funding: Between 2013 and 2022, a total of €7,340,437 is available for the SEED Low Carbon Awards. The Fang Thai Factory rice straw project was funded with €10,000.

Project partner: The SEED Low Carbon Award is funded by theInternational Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Environment Ministry. 

Entrepreneur Jaruwan Khammuang decided to return home to her village in the northern province of Lampang after studying in Bangkok. She wants to put an end to the process of burning rice straw after the harvest, which produces acrid smoke and contributes to pollution, including CO2 emissions. 

Rather than burning the leftover plant stems, or leaving them to rot (which produces methane), Jaruwan believes they can be used as a valuable resource. In the Fang Thai factory, they are processed into pulp — without adding chemicals.

The technique can be used to produce rice paper and disposable tableware that is completely biodegradable. In cooperation with the University of Chiang Mai, a type of coating made from rice starch was created that makes the products impervious to liquids for several hours, and therefore a sustainable alternative to plastic and polystyrene packaging. The 31-year-old entrepreneur's factory has also created jobs for rice farmers who were previously unemployed after the harvest.

A film by Christian Uhlig

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