2,000 illegal containers to return home
Thailand is trying to ship more than 2,000 containers currently held at local ports back to their countries of origin after their owners were unable to claim them.
Some of the containers are believed to be stuffed with illegal plastic scrap and toxic garbage.
"The Industry Ministry and Customs Department will check the containers and send the illegal items back to their origin as nobody has taken them," Environment and National Resources Minister Surasak Karnjanarat said on Thursday.
He said the couriers have agreed to cooperate in shipping the containers back.
Electronic waste, brought into Thailand for sorting in recycling businesses, is worrying the government amid fears the country may become a new dumping ground for e-waste from foreign countries.
Shipping out trash illegally imported into Thailand is one of many new measures being taken by officials. They are also planning to set new quotas and develop better recycling facilities domestically.
According to Gen Surasak, the containers -- 1,600 of which are in Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri and another 460 at Bangkok port – mostly hold discarded pieces of plastic. A check on the shipments found the importers followed the required steps to bring them in.
"But their amount exceeded the quota, so they can't enter [the country]," he said.
Customs officials are making a thorough check of them before shipping out those which did not comply with laws.
However, officials are not always able to intercept suspected containers.
"In some cases, importers reportedly used their 'connections' with some authorities to take the garbage out of port areas even though their lots are beyond legal limits or sometimes the plastic waste is secretly mixed e-waste," he said.
Gen Surasak vowed on Thursday that Thailand is tightening its controls of high-tech and plastic garbage to better protect the country against pollutants.
"I'll inform Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of a proposed list of 432 prohibited items of scrap electronics," he said.
If the premier approves the list, officials will propose it at a cabinet meeting for a final say.