“Thais Say No to E-Waste” program expands collection points nationwide
The escalating problem of electronic waste in Thailand has prompted a collaborative program that will provide waste-disposal points throughout the country and avoid the disposal of e-waste in landfills, with associated risks of pollution.
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Thailand generates more than 400,000 tons of electronic waste per year, but only 500 tons of that is collected and disposed of correctly. The rest remains in homes, is sold as second-hand goods, or is sold to waste collectors.
Faced with a worsening situation, Thailand’s technology and digital services leader, AIS, has joined the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment to create a campaign that urges Thai people to dispose of e-waste correctly. The two organizations will create e-waste disposal points at the Ministry’s provincial offices throughout the country.
In announcing the campaign, the Chief Executive of AIS, Somchai Lertsutiwong, referred to the alarming global scale of the e-waste problem. Quoting research by the United Nations University, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the International Telecommunications Union and the International Solid Waste Association, he said that in 2019, 53.6-million tonnes of electronic waste was discarded around the world – 7.3 kilograms for every person on Earth.
The nationwide campaign sponsored by AIS and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is called “Thais Say No to E-Waste”. It aims to build awareness of the problem and encourage sustainable care for the environment.
Under the collaboration, the number of e-waste receptacles at provincial offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment around the country will be increased, offering the public convenient places to dispose of old mobile phones and accessories such as chargers, batteries, headphones and power banks, as well as defunct TV receivers, stereos and computers. There are currently 2,300 such collection points around the country.
The campaign will also team up with the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Volunteer Network, which will help by communicating and building awareness of the correct ways to store and dispose of electronic waste.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Varawut Silpa-archa, said the government has implemented solutions for the disposal of electronic waste, both generated locally and imported from overseas.
The National Environmental Board has appointed a subcommittee, chaired by the minister, to manage the disposal of plastic and electronic waste. This subcommittee will propose measures and methods and monitor and evaluate efforts to solve problems in the management of plastic and electronic waste.
The minister said that successfully solving the problems of electronic waste required the participation of the state and private sectors, the general public, the education sector and the ministry’s network partners. After collection, electronic waste will be managed in an environmentally friendly way and revenue from recycling will be donated to the Chaipattana Foundation.
AIS’s Chief Executive said that e-waste from telecom and ICT equipment was a big problem affecting everybody in the world.
At present, a meagre 17.4 per cent of global electronic waste, or only 9.3-million tonnes, is correctly recycled. which is only 9.3 million metric tonnes.
In Thailand’s case, the Department of Pollution Control’s Situation Report on Hazardous Waste from Communities shows that in 2019, the country generated 400,000 tons of e-waste.
After being collected in receptacles provided under the new partnership, e-waste will be sent for correct disposal according to international standards of Zero Landfill.
Somchai said that so far, the “Thais Say No to E-Waste” program has been able to collect more than 6.3 tons of electronic waste. AIS has taken this waste to recycling facilities, including those of a specialist firm, TES. This company is an expert in recycling electronic waste by re-use or creation of new value, therefore maintaining a Zero Landfill standard.