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Experts propose total ban on e-waste operations

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Experts propose total ban on e-waste operations

By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM 
THE NATION

 

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Basel convention ‘inadequate’ in protecting Thailand from dumping of hazardous wastes.
 

THERE ARE no clear answers from officials about whether Thailand is changing its policy on the transboundary movement of hazardous waste under the Basel Convention, as the international agreement is seen by some officials and experts as ineffective in stopping the flow of electronic and plastic waste into the country.

 

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry permanent secretary Wijarn Simachaya yesterday said that many people have raised concerns about the convention’s effectiveness in restricting the import of hazardous wastes into the country. The national reform steering committee has called a meeting for next Wednesday to find a common resolution among the related agencies.

 

“The problem of electronic and plastic waste imports is a complex one and even though the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is the main coordinator of the Basel Convention in Thailand, there are many other official agencies also involved in this issue,” Wijarn said. “Therefore, it will need many ministries and related agencies to work together on the solution.”

 

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The meeting will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

 

The Basel Convention, known in full as “The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal”, is an international agreement to reduce the transnational movements of hazardous waste, particularly from wealthier nations to poorer countries with weaker environmental protection laws. But the agreement does not forbid the movement of wastes between richer and poorer countries.

 

A total of 53 countries, including Thailand, have so far ratified the Basel Convention.

 

On Wednesday, deputy national police chief Pol General Wirachai Songmetta suggested that a committee be set up to control and reconsider the import of second-hand electronic parts into Thailand for recycling, which is permitted under the Basel Convention. He argued that it was clear Thailand did not gain any benefit from allowing overseas companies to set up electronic waste recycling plants here.

 

“In police investigation of 12 electronic waste segregation factories, we found that almost all the factories had violated laws in their entire operational process, from the illegal import of electronic waste until the disposal of discarded unrecyclable electronic waste, without proper pollution control systems, causing pollution and contamination of the environment,” Wirachai said.

 

“Moreover, these companies are also owned by foreigners, they avoid taxes, and employ migrant workers, so Thailand does not get benefit in any way – no tax revenue, no employment for the local people, and the factories leave only pollution and environmental problems for the country.”

 

The director of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand, Penchom Saetang, argued that the Basel Convention could no longer be an effective legal tool to prevent hazardous waste movements. There are many exemptions in its regulations that allow transnational transport of hazardous waste, he said.

 

“At first, the Basel Convention was set up with the intent to totally ban all movement of hazardous wastes within the member countries, but there was powerful pressure from the waste traders who lobbied to have exemptions within the regulations. So the flow of hazardous wastes is continuing,” Penchom said.

 

The Convention creates two categories of hazardous wastes for transportation: List A and List B. The 61 hazardous wastes in List A are strictly prohibited for transportation from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to non-OECD countries. However, hazardous wastes within List B, which include electronic waste, are exempted from the movement ban and may be shipped to other countries for reuse or recycling.

 

In the case of Thailand’s recent headline-grabbing e-waste problem, it was found that a Chinese company was involved in illegally importing the e-waste and also in illegal employment.

 

Chinese Embassy spokesperson Yang Yang said Beijing required Chinese investors and enterprises to abide by the laws and regulations of Thailand. 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30347786

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-06-15

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

“Therefore, it will need many ministries and related agencies to work together on the solution.”

then it will never happen; the original premise of relying on thais to be self-disciplined to follow intl guidelines was the problem

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2 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

"...suggested that a committee be set up..."

 

Wow! A committee? That is some powerful stuff!

 

 

Why is taking proper action such a difficult thing to do in Thailand? Even after all these years I am still bewildered by Thailand's adamant determination to do nothing when faced with difficulties...

i would say petty jealousies and competing interests styme many many projects here. 

 

although they bang on about 'the greater good' and 'for xxxx and country' you see very little in practice and it every family/clan for themselves..

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Propose that's about as far as it will go and another committee Hmmm ! last thing Thailand wants to do is upset China so keep sending your hazardous waste to whats becomming the world dumping ground !

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4 hours ago, webfact said:

“The problem of electronic and plastic waste imports is a complex one and even though the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is the main coordinator of the Basel Convention in Thailand, there are many other official agencies also involved in this issue,” Wijarn said. “Therefore, it will need many ministries and related agencies to work together on the solution.”

It wasn't complicated until you opened your mouth, now you made it complicated. Bureaucrat.

  • Haha 1

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Many ministries .... all friends but it will take eons to sort out apportionment of benefits.

 

Foreign companies avoiding tax ..... that's a joke - Thais target foreign companies to pay tax, due or not.  I reported a corrupt lawyer who refused to issue a receipt to the tax office.  They were more concerned with my situation and asked what right I thought I had to report a Thai for tax avoidance.

 

The stench of BS and corruption is asphyxiating everyone except those that create it.

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The problem with closing these companies is that Thai's do not have the skill set to be able to run these companies and know how to deal with the waste that we have in Thailand.  Therefore these companies are a sort of necessary evil.

 

The solution is very simple.  Just like they do for major products open a bidding contest for international companies to establish a depot in Thailand.

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4 hours ago, Oziex1 said:

How hard can it be.

Plenty hard if there's Thai authorities who earn "royalties" from such imports.

  • Haha 1

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

no employment for the local people

Why not?

Sounds like more a failure (due to potential compensated collusion?) of the Thai Labor Department to enforce compliance with labor laws pertaining to foreign businesses and workers in Thailand.

On the other hand according to Thai government labor statistics, Thailand is experiencing FULL employment so why shouldn't migrants be used to supplement the processing of e-waste?

Finally, it is apparently a failure of the Thai Department of Revenue not to correctly assess and collect taxes from the foreign companies and employees operating in Thailand. The solution is not eliminating non-compliant businesses and workers.

Rather than trying to abrogate the Basel Convention, the Thai government might try instead to address its own ineffectiveness and shortcomings to turn the e-waste industry into a sustaining industry to benefit the Thai people. Wouldn't this be consistent with Thailand 4.0?

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Thailand is one of the countries that ratify the Basel convention....yet as usual...they completely ignore, or understand, what these agreements mean.

Again....all about money and the influential....foreigners operating these businesses??...I say BS!

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

 

Why is taking proper action such a difficult thing to do in Thailand?

 

Because everyone is afraid to make a decision in case it backfires. A great example was when the Skytrain was extended beyond On Nut. The person who was supposed to organise the signalling didn't because he was close to retiring and was afraid of making a mistake and losing his pension. Those under him were aware of the problem but in Thailand you never question the boss. The result was a long delay, I think 18 months or more, in opening the extension.

Edited by Bangkok Barry

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BANGKOK 24 June 2018 15:57
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