Agency dusts off waste-separation plant plan

Agency dusts off waste-separation plant plan

Workers from Global Power Synergy Plc sort garbage at a waste management centre in Muang district, Rayong province, in July 2018. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Workers from Global Power Synergy Plc sort garbage at a waste management centre in Muang district, Rayong province, in July 2018. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Industrial Works Department plans to build waste-separation plants nationwide in a bid to process tonnes of future hazardous waste from industrial manufacturing.

The department previously conducted a feasibility study with a Japanese agency five years ago, but the idea was opposed by locals and campaigners. Now the plan is being dusted off again. 

Under the earlier plan, the department sought to build six waste-separation plants in Rayong, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon.

Thongchai Chawalitpichaet, the department's director-general, said the new locations would be far from communities and industrial estates, but the operations must cover all provinces.

"The department will team up with the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand to seek potential locations," he said.

The first plant will be in Chon Buri on 300 rai of land to support factories in the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.

"We will open for companies to join investment in this project," Mr Thongchai, adding that further details — budget, locations, partners — will be settled soon.

Thailand produces 30.94 million tonnes of waste per year, including general and hazardous types at 29.2 and 1.74 million tonnes, respectively.

"A volume of hazardous waste is expected to increase from new manufacturing plants, mainly in EEC provinces," Mr Thongchai said. 

In a related development, the department reported that Thailand's factory employment in the first half of 2019 fell 5.5% year-on-year to 92,262 workers, blaming the drop on many investors shifting to high-tech machinery to replace human workers.

This contraction was based on overall factory registration for the period, down by 18.1% year-on-year to 2,064 factories. 

But in baht terms, the total value of registration during January to June stood at 195.7 billion baht, up 15.9% year-on-year, driven by petroleum, food and electronics sectors.

The department reported figures for both new factory registration and factory expansion, expecting the total value for 2019 to reach 430 billion baht.

For new factories alone, the department reported 1,659 registered in the first half with employment of 45,733 workers.

The total value for new operations stood at 106 billion baht, led by food (19.3 billion baht), petroleum (16.8 billion baht) and electronics (14.21 billion baht).

Overall investment in the second half is expected to see better sentiment than the first half, Mr Thongchai said, thanks to the new government building up investor confidence.

"But the US-China trade war remains such a huge risk for the global investment, so the new government has to handle this situation to maintain investment flows in the country," he said.

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