PCD chief says plastic import ban could be delayed
Bangkok Post 12 September 2020 | Apinya Wipatayotin
The Pollution Control Department (PCD) has hinted it could postpone the ban on the import of plastic waste for recycling, with its chief saying the domestic supply of plastic waste is not enough to feed the kingdom's industrial needs.
"That is a possible option, but the financial decision is to be made by the subcommittee on plastic and electronic waste management chaired by the environment minister, who disagreed with the import," Pralong Damrongthai, director-general of the PCD, said after meeting the Department of Industrial Works (DIW), operators in the industry and civil society groups on Friday.
The meeting was held after the DIW asked the subcommittee to postpone the plan to ban the import of plastic waste for recycling.
Mr Pralong said the kingdom's supply of plastic waste for industrial recycling is insufficient at the moment.
His department has asked for a 650,000-tonne plastic waste import quota for next year.
The ban on the import of plastic waste is set to become effective in January.
Mr Pralong said the subcommittee ordered the DIW to present figures showing local demand for plastic waste for industrial recycling before the subcommittee makes a decision on the matter at the end of this month.
The PCD chief insisted the decision must be in line with the stance of civic groups on the plastic waste import issue.
Sixty-two organisations -- comprising environmental, public health and consumer protection groups -- on Wednesday came out to oppose postponement of the ban, saying they will only accept the import of plastic beads.
Penchom Tang, director of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (Earth), one of the 62 groups, said the import of plastic waste would mean more foreign rubbish being sent to dumped in Thailand to be dumped, which was not a desirable outcome.
Ms Penchom blames the DIW for failing to control the number of plastic recycling plants in the kingdom.
Earth, a civic group monitoring industrial pollution, says it has received increasing complaints from locals about toxic-waste dumping in their communities after the rise of recycling factories in Thailand, she said.
The kingdom has 1,433 plans, compared with just 253 in 2016.
The boom of these factories and the rise of the import of waste -- which sometimes include illegal electronics and hazardous waste -- coincides with the timing of China's ban on the import of plastic waste two years ago.
Ms Penchom said the number of imports during the past two years increased to 552,912.