Thailand halts plastic and e-waste imports

Thailand has instigated a temporary halt to plastic and e-waste imports in response to fears that it is becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for electronic waste in the wake of China’s import bans.

Developed countries have been racing to find alternative destinations for their waste, with plastics from the UK heading to Vietnam, Turkey, Malaysia and elsewhere since China’s borders have closed to 24 grades of solid waste. Thailand has imported 37,000 tonnes of e-waste so far in 2018, as well as 120,000 tonnes of plastic waste, which can prove hazardous to the environment and local communities as it is often landfilled or incinerated. Now, the Thai Government is planning to introduce a permanent ban in response to this influx of (often low-quality) waste, as well as beginning inspections of all recycling facilities to weed out illegal operators.

The Basel Action Network (BAN) is calling for an amendment to the 1989 United Nations Basel Convention, which restricts the trade of hazardous waste from more developed to less developed countries. The proposed amendment covers both e-waste and end-of-life ships and would make it illegal to export any such waste from developed to developing countries for any reason.

Jim Puckett, BAN’s Director, said: “Every country in the Asian region should ratify the Ban Amendment and implement the ban into national law as a matter of urgency. This action will not only protect their own countries from the unsustainable waste trade tsunami, but will help the entire world as well, as it will ensure that the amendment enters into the force of international law.”