Product Related Environmental Work in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Thailand, Developing and Manufacturing Electrical and Electronic Products
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Thailand that develop and manufacture electrical and electronic products are among other SMEs in the world meeting increasingly stringent legal and customer requirements related to environmental issues. Obstacles for the SMEs around the world to meet these requirements are almost the same in form of lack of knowledge, budget and resources. The differences between SMEs in Thailand and SMEs in the EU, Japan or even Korea are that these countries have been developed the eco-design concept and SMEs have been involved in eco-design activities for many years. This process and activities are new both for the SMEs and for the supporting institutes and organisations in Thailand. Thailand has just started to build up the infrastructure to support the SMEs to implement the eco-design concept and to work more with product related environmental issues. The focus right now for the SMEs in this research is to comply with the EU Directives, RoHS and WEEE, and this is where the main investments are made, e.g. in order to be able to export to the demanding EU market.
This research is investigating what kind of environment demands that SMEs in Thailand that develop and manufacture electrical and electronic products have on their products, how they handle these requirements and also what obstacles there are for implementing a more product related environmental concept, also known as eco-design, Design for the Environment (DfE), Green Design or Environmentally Oriented Design. A research in form of interviews and factory visits has been done with five different SMEs in Thailand. These five SMEs have also participated in the first official eco-design projects in Thailand with funding from the government in Thailand and also some from the EU. Interviews have been conducted with involved parties in these project such as institutes and experts provided by Universities. These interviews were made in order to get their opinion and experience about the present situation for SMEs in Thailand that develop and manufacture electrical and electronic products to work with product related green issues.
The research shows that these companies have the possibilities and conditions to work further on with the eco-design concept in the future. Their participation in the eco-design projects has been a good experience and there is evidence of strong support from the management and owners, environmental awareness, pro-active work and motivation among the companies. The obstacles are as mentioned above concerning lack of resources, knowledge and experience of how these environmental demands and requirements will affect the product development process. This lack of experience depends mostly on the fact that these eco-design projects are the first projects in this field for the companies. These five companies have now built up a fundamental knowledge but are still in need of further support. The communication between the SMEs and supporting parties are important and also one factor these five companies think is functioning well.
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