Flood of electronic waste crashes Thailand’s idyllic image

Within a period of time as short as several months, Thailand – a country famous for paradisal views – was flooded with electronic waste. The range of this phenomenon has not even been precisely measured but its source is obvious – China’s ban to import electronic waste.

The Chinese embargo naturally did not eliminate the practice of exporting waste from highly developed countries to Asia. The European Union itself is estimated to annually generate 50 million tonnes of electronic waste, a large portion of which is simply transported to distant regions of the world. Instead of China, litter started to be exported to neighbouring countries, including Thailand, which has so far been regarded as the paradise for tourists.

First inspections carried out by Thai authorities, mainly in Samut Prakan province, south of Bangkok, revealed the so-far unknown scale of the waste import issue. The inspectors found literally mountains of old printers, TV sets, computers and other electronic equipment. Labels and other documents confirmed that the electronic waste had come mainly from abroad[1].

Thailand has exceptionally lenient waste import regulations. For now the authorities seem to be ignoring the scale of the problem and look away from it while at the same time they are assuring that local communities should not be concerned. However, social protest is gradually rising. The situation is raising greater and greater objections as the most waste has arrived at areas with hundreds of shrimp farms. The pressure on the authorities is growing due to concerns about environmental pollution and threats to the shrimp farming industry.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/28/deluge-of-electronic-waste-turning-thailand-into-worlds-rubbish-dump