Minister says environment and public health top priorities; recycling businesses fear for future.
IMPORT OF all kinds of electronic and plastic wastes will be prohibited to ensure protection of the environment.
A meeting yesterday between all related agencies to solve the environmental problems created by e-waste and plastic waste concluded with a resolution to ban the import of hazardous used wastes into the country.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Kanchanarat emphasised that the environment and public health must come before profit-making and industrial development.
As per the resolution, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry decided to ban the import of 411 kinds of e-waste. The import of plastic wastes will be totally banned in the next two years.
The resolution, however, makes some exceptions and will allow the import of used electronic telecommunication products and copying machines for repair and reuse.
In addition, steel, copper and aluminium scraps can still be imported for industrial use on the condition that these metal scraps must be clean and not be mixed with other substances.
The Natural Resources and Environment Minister has asked the Industry Ministry and Commerce Ministry to issue a ministerial regulation to make the provisions of the resolution a law.
Surasak admitted that the ban on import of hazardous wastes will definitely affect the recycling industry and some business operators, but he added that it was important to implement the ban now to ensure Thailand did not become the world’s garbage bin.
“We need to prioritise good environment and health protection for our citizens before industrial development,” he 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?”
He asked business operators in the recycling industry to comply and adapt to the necessary regulatory change. He said they could present their perspective and seek amendments to the regulation if they have effective methods to control pollution and the environmental impacts from their activities.
The industrial sector has raised concerns that the two-year preparation period for the plastic waste ban is too short. They also argued that imported plastic waste is cheaper and of higher quality than domestic plastic waste, hence their businesses are faced with survival problems and may have to close down.
Surasak said he understood the situation faced by the plastic recycling industry. The cost of imported plastic waste is only Bt6 compared to Bt12 for domestic plastic waste.
He argued that if Thailand kept importing plastic waste from outside the country to recycle based on the price factor, |plastic waste in the country will not be dealt with properly and the already-severe waste problem in the country could aggravate.
“We need to ensure that domestic and plastic wastes will be used as material by the recycling industry first, before we import these materials from outside the country. We need to be sure that they will not cause environmental problems to our country, as the government and our citizens want to preserve a clean environment and sustainable future for our next generations,” he said.