UK-Thailand Collaboration “THAI-UP” Leads the Way in Sustainable Materials and Solutions from Agricultural Waste

25 March 2024

THAI-UP workshop in Mae Fah Luang University, and the project team visits local companies in Thailand.
THAI-UP workshop in Mae Fah Luang University, and the project team visits local companies in Thailand.
THAI-UP workshop at QMUL, Mar 2024, with
THAI-UP workshop at QMUL, Mar 2024, with

In an innovative approach to environmental sustainability and economic development, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Mae Fah Luang University (MFL) in Thailand have further enhanced their partnership in a recent project called THAI-UP: Thailand Upcycling agricultural waste for sustainable packaging and value-added products.

Funded by the Queen Mary ISPF Institutional Support Grant (ODA), this collaboration extends the success of a previous British Council Newton Institutional Link project between the two institutions. The initiative focuses on transforming local agricultural wastes, such as rice straw, into sustainable packaging and other value-added materials, aiming to address critical environmental challenges in Thailand and contribute towards achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The collaboration and partnership recently delivered a series of impactful workshops and visits in both Thailand and the UK, engaging a wide array of stakeholders in the pursuit of sustainable material solutions and technological advancements in agricultural waste upcycling.

Bridging Communities and Expertise in Thailand

In Thailand, the project team conducted a workshop that brought together local stakeholders, industry experts, and more than 30 high school students, demonstrating the developed process of turning agricultural waste into sustainable packaging materials. Led by Dr Nattakan Soykeabkaew from MFL and Dr Han Zhang from QMUL, the team also embarked on visits to two local companies in the northern region of Thailand. These companies, known for their efforts in polymer recycling and agricultural waste utilization in acoustic panels, provided the team with insights into local practices and challenges. Dr Zhang and his team offered expert suggestions and assistance to overcome these hurdles, fostering a collaborative environment aimed at solving practical challenges and promoting sustainable practices.

Fostering International Collaboration in London

The initiative's reach extended to London, where a workshop hosted at Queen Mary University of London on 20th March 2024 showcased the collaborative spirit and scientific rigor of the project. The event featured presentations by four academics and researchers from Mae Fah Luang University, who shared their research and innovations in sustainable materials and manufacturing. The workshop also welcomed esteemed representatives from the UK research community, including speakers from Imperial College London, Loughborough University, and attendees from the UK High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre. This diverse gathering fostered a rich exchange of ideas, offering numerous suggestions and advice for addressing the environmental challenges faced by Thailand, highlighting the project's commitment to finding scalable and sustainable solutions.

A Model for Global Sustainability Efforts

This UK-Thailand joint research partnership exemplifies the potential of international collaboration in driving forward innovations that not only solve local and global environmental issues but also pave the way for economic development through sustainable practices. By focusing on upcycling agricultural waste into useful and value-added products, the initiative offers a model for other countries grappling with similar issues, demonstrating the power of science, innovation, and international cooperation in achieving a sustainable future.

The ongoing conversation between researchers, industry experts, and local communities reflects the project's holistic approach to sustainability, emphasising the importance of knowledge exchange and mutual learning. As the collaboration advances, its contributions to environmental conservation and sustainable development continue to inspire and inform global efforts towards a greener planet.

Contact:Han Zhang
Research Centre: