Thailand bans import of plastic and WEEE waste

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:

Thailand has temporarily banned the import of plastic and WEEE waste.

An investigation led by the country's Department of Industrial Works (DIW) over the past month has found rural lands to be overrun with hundreds of illegal and potentially highly polluting WEEE processing yards.

Last week, the Customs Department and DIW seized a large number of containers at Bangkok Port which held electronic, plastic and metal scraps.

DIW will now inspect 2,240 recycling factories across the country.

Mongkol Pruekwatana, DIW director-general, said the department will propose an “indefinite ban on these imports in the near future.”

Since China’s introduction of tighter import restrictions on some plastics, paper and metals last year, the UK has worked to find alternative markets in countries such as Turkey, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Greenpeace’s Unearthed analysis of customs data revealed UK exports to Thailand rose in the first four months of this year from 123 tonnes in January to April 2017 to 6,810 tonnes.

Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said the Chinese ban and restrictions have had an impact on the entire market.

He said: “There cannot be any complacency that we will find new markets as others close because no country wants to be a dumping ground.

“Instead, we have to provide countries with a high-quality product and make the UK the Aston Martin rather than the British Leyland of quality material."

The Basel Action Network (BAN) has warned other South and Southeast Asian nations will also be hit with a “tidal wave” of electronic and plastic waste if they don’t tighten their import restrictions.

It has now called for adoption of the Basel Ban Amendment, an amendment to the Basel Convention agreed by 194 countries to make it illegal to export hazardous waste for any reason from developed countries of the OECD and EU blocs to developing countries.

Vietnam has also introduced a temporary ban on plastic scrap shipments from U.S and Canada in response to “escalating number of idle containers or recycled plastics in Vietnam resulting in port congestion”.

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