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Green transition and energy efficiency needs of textile industries in Thailand and Cambodia

Decarbonizing Industries Energy efficiency for textile industry circular economy
Counsellor, Trade and Investment

Kai Henrik Mikael Tuorila
Thailand's textile and apparel industries are going through big transformation. The industry is now trying to focus more on branding and value creation as they can’t compete any more with cost as in the past. Industry is very export driven, and increasing sustainability requirements e.g. from EU market is forcing Thai industry to transform themselves. While the textile industry in general is looking for circular solutions, the large Thai companies, which are potential investors /upscaling partners have decarbonization high on the agenda. Their net zero targets are more ambitious than national ones.

Thai textile industry consists of more than 2000 down and upstream companies. There is interest to find solution for textile recycling, as well as for new innovations for environmentally friendly chemicals and yarns using waste (agriculture, textile, PET bottles) as feedstock. Several Thai companies and universities/research institutes experiment on these. Large Thai conglomerates are also actively looking CVC (corporate venture capital) opportunities to invest for innovative start-ups or potential scaling up activities.

Concern of lack of raw water during the dry season, as well as increasing sustainability requirements from export markets, are forcing companies to invest for advanced treatment and recycling of process waters. The high and fluctuating energy pricing in Thailand is a concern for industry, naturally there is interest to find more energy efficient solutions.

Cambodia has 500+ exporting garment and footwear factories. Most of these factories are foreign owned and are producing OEM products for world's leading brands. The export value is more than 11 billion USD and 70% of this is going to US and EU markets. For example, OEM production for only two major brands is over 10% of total exports. Cambodia has hardly any yarn/fabric manufacturing, so it imports these with over 5 billion USD value annually. Value of annual cut waste is nearly 1 billion USD, and nearly all of this material ends up now either to be burned in the boilers or at landfills.So naturally there is an opportunity and interest to find better use for this potentially valuable recycling feedstock.

In addition local factories are pressured by their customers, leading OEM brands, to be more environmentally friendly and to meet increasing sustainability requirements. Local energy supply is not very reliable, causing occasional interruptions in production. Some factories have started to invest e.g. for rooftop solar and would naturally be interested in finding other energy saving solutions.

Target Sectors

  • energy efficiency
  • textiles
  • green transformation

Solutions or Products Needed by Customer

  • energy efficiency solutions and renewable energy sources
  • textiles recycling (mechanical and chemical) process
  • water treatment and recycling (esp. for Thailand)
  • new innovation for yarns and chemicals based on agriculture and plastic waste materials

TF Activities Available for Finnish Companies

For more information of these opportunities and supplementary documents, please contact Kai Tuorila, Counsellor for Trade and Investment, Embassy of Finland in Bangkok, .

Following written material is available on request:

  • Thailand Supply Chain Textiles and Apparels – by Textile Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industries (including introduction, recent statistics and examples of R&D roadmaps and Thai brands with Sustainability Core), pdf 17 pages
  • Cambodia Garment, Footwear and Travel Goods Sector Brief (Nov 2022) – by TAFTAC (Textile, Apparel, Footwear & Travel Goods Association in Cambodia), (including introduction, detailed statistics for export, FDI, employment, effects of Covid19, policy developments relating to GFT sector), pdf 31 pages
  • Team Finland plans the mini-seminar on 28th August to present the opportunity and discuss, also share information about the delegation to Thailand and Cambodia planned in Q4 of 2023. The aim of delegation is to establish direct contacts and build relations with most prominent local players within textile industry.