EARTH Thailand

Thailand, ASEAN’s 3rd largest importer of plastic and electronic wastes

BLT 03 July 2019

In the past few years, ASEAN has been pushing away the shipments of plastic and electronic wastes (e-wastes) from around the world after China, once the largest importers of such materials, stopped accepting them in late 2017.

Statistics showed ASEAN’s imports of such wastes during 2016 and 2018 grew 171% and a survey by Greenpeace suggested that Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand became top destinations for these items.

But, from the middle of 2018, many countries started introducing new laws to limit such imports from the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan. Thailand declared that it would completely ban plastic waste import in 2021, for instance.

In terms of origin, the world’s top-5 exporters of such wastes to ASEAN are USA (439,129 tons), Japan (430,064 tons), Hong Kong (149,516 tons), Germany (136,034 tons) and UK (112,046 tons).

Meanwhile, Thailand has been a major exporter of plastic wastes to other ASEAN nations and records showed Thailand shipped out 74,906 tons in 2018, with 61,470 tons to Myanmar and over 11,514 tons to Vietnam.

Various ASEAN countries have committed to fighting polluting plastic wastes and Thailand already announced the ban of plastic wrap for drinking water bottle caps, plastic products with Oxo-biodegradable additives and microbeads, by 2019, before the same policy is implemented for single-use plastics by 2022.

In addition, Greenpeace said that several attempts in ASEAN are not really addressing the root cause of the problem and suggested the ban on the imports of plastic wastes, even for recycling purpose, while asking the bloc to introduce region-wide policies to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics, and to push for an economic framework based on the concept of zero waste.