THAILAND will be banning the imports of all forms of electronic and plastic waste as it looks to prioritise the environment and public health.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Kanchanarat said the decision came after a meeting with several related agencies who came up with a resolution to ban the import of hazardous used waste in the country, according to The Nation.
The move involves banning the import of over 400 types of scrap electronics within six months, while the import of plastic waste will be totally banned in two years.
Although recycling businesses have expressed concern over the decision, the minister said the nation’s environment and public health came before profit-making and industrial development.
“I have no doubt that the recycling of plastic waste and used electronic parts are profitable businesses at the moment,” he was quoted as saying.
“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?”
According to Reuters, Mongukol Pruekwatana, director general of the department of industrial works, said full list of banned items would be announced soon.
However, some other electronic items and second-hand devices would still be allowed to enter the country if they can be repaired and resold.
Loosely defined as devices that contained electric cords or batteries, e-waste contains valuable materials such as gold, silver and copper, but other content such as lead, mercury and cadmium was harmful to the environment and public health.
In May, authorities in the country began conducting series of raids against waste processing centres that operated illegally.
A large portion of the world’s e-waste is processed in China but environmentalists say the exports were being rerouted to Southeast Asian countries.
The imports have become a headache for authorities in Asean countries that lacked updated laws to address the issue.
On Wednesday, Vietnam’s central bank asked banks to place restrictions on projects that were considered environmentally unfriendly and called for the environmental risk management strategies by 2025.
In June, a short-finned pilot whale was killed after swallowing some eight kilograms of plastic bags off the coast of Southern Thailand.
Thailand is one of the world’s largest consumers of plastic bags, which kill hundreds of marine creatures living near the country’s popular beaches each year.
At least 300 marine animals including pilot whales, sea turtles and dolphins perish each year in Thai waters after ingesting plastic, generating sympathy and anger among Thai netizens.
Plastic waste’s impact on marine biology is a worldwide problem. Most of the 24 endangered sperm whales found dead in the eastern Mediterranean since 2001 were killed by plastic debris, a recent report said.