Environment minister keen on plastic imports ban

Environment minister keen on plastic imports ban

But one govt dept is against it, he admits

Thailand plans to fully ban imports of plastic waste next year, says Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa.

The minister said on Thursday the country had already banned imports of some plastic waste and 422 items of electronic waste in November 2018 and three committees had been set up to study the repercussions of the policy.

He said the Department of Industrial Works (DIW) wanted to continue importing plastic waste as it provided important raw materials in the production of plastic products at some factories.

The DIW has now been told to analyse plastic products around the country, the number of companies using it and the precise shortage of raw materials so a new import limit can be proposed on Sept 11, the minister said.

Mr Varawut said certain types of plastic raw materials used to produce T-shirts and plastic bags had been prohibited and only raw materials already in the country could be used from now on.

Meanwhile, the Customs Department is conducting a survey to determine the amount of the waste arriving in containers. The ministry is considering an option to send the waste back where it came from.

The Department of Pollution Control (DPC) said late last month it was making progress in drafting the country's first-ever plastic waste management bill, with a goal to make plastic 100% recyclable by 2027.

The DPC has finished holding nationwide public hearings on its proposed draft and says information compiled from participants will be considered by its lawyers working closely with a sub-committee chaired by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's permanent secretary.

If the draft is approved by the National Board on Environment, it will then be tabled for consideration by the cabinet.

The DPC said the bill would be written based on its desire that all waste should yield an economic return.

Wanich Sawayo, director of the DPC's Waste Minimisation Subdivision, said if the draft became law it would help to end single-use plastic bags, a key factor in its implementation of 3R, a concept to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

It would also put a focus on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which requires manufacturers to put their plastic waste to good use.

The amount of plastic waste associated with food delivery services grew during the stay-at-home period.

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