Since its establishment in 1993, TEI has pushed for the implementation of sustainable production and consumption concepts in order to reduce degradation of natural resources and the environment that can result from modern production and consumption practices. TEI has studied operational successes and achievements of several countries and has followed up on activities by the World Economic Forum to assist production sectors and consumer groups in achieving sustainable models and lifestyles.
In 1997, TEI promoted the utilization of clean technology in the production sector for Thai industries to implement cost-effective production processes that result in lesser environmental impact. Following some implementation experience, TEI found that simply transferring knowledge and providing operational guidelines was not enough to stimulate the introduction of clean technology approaches; additional efforts had to be taken. Some of these steps included getting approval from the organization’s administrators, building an environmental management team, and securing from all operational units within factories. TEI also introduced the Japanese small group activity (SGA) guidelines, which help drive the implementation of clean technology approaches in production processes. TEI has also sent specialists to help make factory personnel aware of the availability of capital sources that can be used for improving production processes and has provided counseling advice on energy conservation measures in production processes—which have fast returns on investment that come from saving on energy usage (electricity) costs.
In 2005, the Thailand Environment Institute collaborated with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) to study eco-industrial concepts and eco-efficiency principles that could be applied in Thailand. These concepts and principles were first applied as pilot projects in the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, Bang Pu Industrial Estate and many other industrial estates that had previously released considerable amounts of waste and pollution into the environment.
In addition to supporting eco-friendly production processes, TEI has also provided assistance to industrial sectors for the implementation of several other ‘green’ processes, procedures, approaches and green technology applications, such as:
- The development of a life cycle inventory for production processes of iron, paint, natural rubber, carpet, pig and chicken feeds, water supply, industrial water supply, community waste management and wastewater treatment. Providing life cycle inventory data will help industries identify the aspects of their production processes that they can change or improve for reducing environmental impact and becoming more compliant with present and future environmental regulations.
- The development of an environmental database recording the energy use of fundamental materials and processes such as industrial agriculture, animal farming, meat, animal products and textiles.
- Data management for economic and ecological product and process design (in compliance with ISO standards) for industrial products such as textiles, metal and iron, wood furniture, car batteries etc. and electrical and electronic production chains in order to support proactive approaches to reduce environmental impact from materials and their production processes.
- Life cycle assessments for assessing pollution and resource usage (e.g electricity, gasohol, industrial goods agricultural products) in each process of the life cycle.
- Carbon Footprint assessment to determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life cycle of commercial and industrial products (e.g, carpets, tires, food packaging and textiles).
In 2011, the Thailand Environment Institute incorporated LEAN production methods to enhance environmental management in the production sector. The effort was to help organizations incorporate the ‘environmental costs’ of their operations into their business plans, and to therefore provide them with effective strategies through which these costs (environmental impacts) could be reduced.
TEI also studied the impacts of strict environmental regulations such as REACH, WEEE and RoHS in developed countries in order to inform the business and industrial sectors of the Thai economy about stringent regulations so that they can be prepared when conducting business and trade across borders.
A growing body of knowledge on sustainable consumption shows that there are several important factors that can drive consumption behavior to be more sustainable. TEI has found that if consumers have adequate information and knowledge about the personal and environmental benefits of sustainable consumption and possess a willingness to change their consumption patterns, it is likely that they will prefer and purchase only those products that have lower environmental impacts. This behavior can then motivate manufacturers to make their supply chains ‘greener’ by selecting low impact raw materials, adopting clean production techniques, and adopting waste and scrap management processes to reuse or recycle waste.
In 1996, the Green Label project was introduced through collaboration between the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other related organizations. The Thailand Environment Institute and Thai Industrial Standards Institute served as secretaries for this project. The objectives of the project are:
- To improve standards and regulations of “Green Label” products that have been certified as ‘low polluting’ products.
- To push forward goods producers and services providers to develop their products in accordance with standards and regulations;
- To provide eco-friendly product options to consumers.
Green Label certification will use life cycle assessment as a tool to assess pollution in every step of product life cycle. Green Label is a strategy in environmental policies to use the market as a tool to protect nature through the production and consumption behavior of producers and consumers interested in participating in environmental protection and management.
A success for TEI’s Green Label project operation came when the Cabinet of the Thai government directed that the public sector would adopt green procurement and buy goods or services that produce less pollution in fiscal year 2007-2012, that regulations would be improved to support green policies, and that the Green Label would be certified. Moreover, TEI also played a key role in doing policy research for the public sector in order to set direction and to push the sustainable production and consumption towards national level, including the study and the creation of roadmaps for sustainable consumption, the development of eco-friendly procurement mechanism of public sector, and the development of a green supply chain within the traders group.
Thailand Environment Institute has also developed a Carbon Reduction label project for goods and services to certify products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the production processes in accordance with specified criteria, as well as the Carbon Reduction Certification for Building Projects.
Currently, TEI’s emphasis is on improving the Green Label and Carbon Reduction Label and to upgrade services offered to the private sector. TEI also aims to increase the number of eco-friendly service products and buildings, to increase the eco-friendliness of products or services, and to communicate these changes to consumers so that they can better understand the impacts of their choices and participate in improving their quality of life and the environment by supporting eco-friendly goods and services.