Calls for review of Thailand’s importation of electronic trash

The Pollution Control Department will propose a review of Thailand’s importation of hazardous wastes and electronic trash under the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

Meanwhile, the national deputy police chief, Pol Gen Veerachai Songmetta, who led a series of raids of trash recycling plants in the past few weeks told a meeting on the management of electronic trash and plastic trash on Wednesday that Thailand has not gained anything at all from allowing wastes to be imported into the country for recycling, but, on the contrary, stands to lose from environmental and health threats posed by hazardous wastes due to lax controls and inefficient disposal of the wastes.

Although the Basel Convention has some advantages in a way that Thailand can export hazardous wastes used mobile phone batteries which cannot be properly disposed locally to Europe or Japan for proper disposal, Pollution Control Department chief Mrs Sunee Piyapanpong said the convention has more disadvantages.

She explained that Thailand has allowed the import of hazardous wastes under the Basel Convention for recycling, but controls of the imported wastes and their disposal are lax and weak and there are also legal loopholes.

She admitted that it was difficult to control because the importers of the wastes falsely declared the true nature of the imported wastes and there were not enough officials to check every arriving container.

Pol Gen Veerchai told the meeting that all the 12 out of a total of 26 recycling plants raided by officials in the past few weeks had broken the law, starting from their importation of E-trash and plastic trash, their separation and their disposal which lack proper system to prevent leak of hazardous substances into the environment.

He said most of the recycling facilities were owned by foreigners and most of them were built illegally and engaged in tax evasion with double bookkeeping. All in all, he said Thailand has gained nothing for allowing the importation of wastes for recycling purpose.

Regarding the Basel Convention, the deputy police chief said he felt the convention was effective enough, but regulation was inadequate. He proposed the setup of a panel to oversee the E-trash problem and to decide whether the E-trash should be allowed into the country or not.

“No developed countries have allowed electronic trash from other countries to be imported into their countries with the exception of such country as Thailand,” said Pol Gen Veerachai.