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E-waste shunned by China piles up in Thailand

Police inspect electronic waste in Pathum Thani province early this month. The Customs Department warns that electronic and plastic waste is increasingly heading for Thailand. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Plastic and electronic waste banned from import by China is now engulfing Thailand, the Customs Department spokesman said Wednesday.

Chaiyut Khamkhun said that in the whole of last year, 145,000 tonnes of plastic waste was imported for recycling -- but 212,000 tonnes has arrived in just the first five months of this year.

Imports of electronic waste last year amounted to 64,400 tonnes, but the figure has already reached 52,200 tonnes in the first five months of 2018. Importers must seek permission from the Industrial Works Department and the Foreign Trade Department.

The waste has increasingly been diverted to Thailand since China banned its importation, the spokesman said.

Ninety percent of the waste was imported through the Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri province. About 500 containers - each weighing about 20 tonnes - have arrived at the port every month so far this year.  

The Customs Department was currently checking 162 containers, and earlier rejected 11 containers of such waste, Mr Chaiyut said.

The Industrial Works Department recently suspended the licences of five recycling plants for forwarding imported waste to unlicensed plants for recycling.

Kreecha Koedsriphan, deputy spokesman of the Customs Department, said both his department and the Industrial Works Department would examine whether any licensed recycling plants were importing quantities of waste beyond their processing capacities. 

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