Thailand is to ban the import of most electronic and all plastic wastes.
In an interview published by the English language newspaper The Nation, natural resources and environment minister General Surasak Kanchanarat said: “I have no doubt that the recycling of plastic waste and used electronic parts are profitable businesses at the moment.
“Some business operators may make a lot of profit from the recycling industry, but what will the country gain from their prosperity when our environment becomes polluted and the people suffer?”
His ministry is to ban 411 specified kinds of WEEE, while there will be a total ban on plastics within the next two years.
Thailand will still permit imports of telecommunications products and copying machines for repair and reuse, while imports of steel, copper and aluminium scrap will be allowed provided these materials are not be mixed with other substances.
General Surasak admitted that the ban would affect the recycling industry, but said it was important to ensure Thailand “did not become the world’s garbage bin”.
The paper reported that Thailand’s industrial sector had raised concerns that the two-year lead-in to the plastic waste ban is too short and that imported waste is cheaper and of better quality than that produced domestically.
But the minister added that if Thailand kept importing plastic waste for recycling, it would never deal with its domestic waste problem.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s National News Bureau has reported that the country’s Department of Provincial Administration has ordered district chiefs to send teams led by village headmen to inspect WEEE recycling plants and search for those in possession of hazardous substances.
This is part of a bid to tackle WEEE smuggling along with illegal recycling and disposal practices.