Researchers eye e-waste mountains
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Researchers eye e-waste mountains

Scheme will tackle mounting scourge

The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) will promote a nationwide zero electronic-waste scheme to regulate the sector and reduce the impact on the environment.

NRCT executive director Wiparat De-ong said the amount of e-waste is increasing due to quick changes in advanced technology.

However, environmental problems are mounting, so the Pollution Control Department (PCD) and various other agencies are trying to promote laws to regulate management of e-waste, she said.

The NRCT and Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation will fund a research team led by Sutha Khaodhiar, associate professor from the Centre of Excellence on Hazardous Substance Management of Chulalongkorn University, to set up a database for e-waste management.

The aim is to draw on the database to draft a national policy on managing e-waste, said Assoc Prof Sutha.

He said his researchers have monitored e-waste in communities since 2020 and found the country produces about 428,000 tonnes of e-waste per year, 70% of which consists of broken household appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions, mobile phones and computers.

They also found disassembly and recycling factories could only process 30-40% of the e-waste. E-waste such as old computers and mobile phones contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals if the devices are burned or dumped in a landfill.

"Recycling electronic circuit boards to extract silver, gold and palladium needs a certified facility because the process can release hazardous substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium to nearby communities," Mr Sutha said.

He said the team will collect data related to e-waste management in many parts of Thailand.

In the meantime, the government should have measures to encourage people to take part in e-waste management, he said, such as by having e-waste drop points that people can access or an app for people to track e-waste management processes. It should also promote knowledge about e-waste recycling concept.

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