Globalization is a term often used for the current world development. The meaning of globalization is borderless world that is evolving in every way, expanding rapidly, extensively, spreading across the globe. Technologies in various fields are highly developed and are very advanced, especially electrical and electronic products over the past decade have changed the level of technology at an increasingly high level in order to meet with needs and convenience of daily life. Although the effects were mostly positive. On the other hand, the negative impacts are as severe as benefits. It is mainly due to the fact that most elements in electrical and electronic products contain many kinds of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, flame retardant substances, and other hazardous chemicals. Without a proper management system, such pollutions will contaminate soil, water, groundwater and, in some cases, spread to the air.
These contaminants could have both direct and indirect impacts on natural resources and the environment. When these substances enter the human body, they will begin to accumulate. When accumulation reach high levels, it will begin to cause severe disease by damaging various organ systems such as brain, nervous system, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, thyroid and eventually may lead to cancer. Waste electrical and electronic appliances can be called “electronic waste”, or “e-waste” for short, has become one of the major environmental issues causing severe impacts on natural resource, the environment and on public health. During the past decade, many countries such as EU countries, Japan, Korea and the United States conducted researches on the effects of electronic waste. All such countries have already established measures, policies and regulations related to e-waste management. Most of which are requirement for manufacturers or business, or “command and control” regulations. The objective of such regulations is to prevent and reduce the impact of electronic waste such as law on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and law on the Restriction of the Use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS). After both laws became effective, resulting in the removal of electronic waste or products that were not compliant from such markets. Noncompliance products from such countries are sent to dispose in countries that have no clear supporting laws, especially in developing countries in Africa and Asia including Thailand.
Development of WEEE management policy in Thailand
Thailand, a developing country, is regarded as one of the world’s major destinations for e-waste. However, when considering from the other side of issue, it was found that e-waste was generated in the country even at a higher rate and was more worrisome. The sources of e-waste in Thailand can be divided into two groups as followed:
- First group is waste that occurs from the production process of factory or “industrial waste”. Industrial process emits chemicals or residues during the production including products that have passed the production line but do not meet standard criteria, causing a need to make some changes (rework), recycled or destroyed.
- Second group is electronic waste that is generated from use of the product in households or businesses until it expires. This waste occurs in the community hence called “Household Waste” and is mostly broken, end of service life, or short circuit electrical appliances.
The results from survey by Pollution Control Department in 2007 shew that hazardous waste in the community occurred in total of 440,716 tons. This can be divided into 131,871 tons (30%) of general hazardous waste and 308,845 tons (70%) of electronic waste. Later, in the year 2012, it is estimated that 513,631 tons of hazardous waste in the community are generated, divided into 153,917 tons of general hazardous waste from the community and 359,714 tons of e-waste. While in the year 2016, it is estimated that there are 573,463 tons of hazardous waste generated the community, divided into 172,076 tons of general hazardous waste and 401,387 tons of e-waste. From such statistic, the amount of waste is likely to increase on an average of 12 percent per year, which is considered to be a very high rate.
National Strategy on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Management approved by the cabinet since 2007. However, the attention on the issue has been multiplied later as it has been pointed out in 2014 that the problem of solid waste is the worst environmental problem in Thailand. Soon after, the issue of waste management became one of national agenda. This draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Act is regulation stemmed from national strategy on WEEE is one of many regulations proposed then to cope with Thailand’s waste problem.
|2007||Cabinet approved the First National Strategy on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Management on July 24th 2007 (current version of national strategy runs from 2014-2021)|
|2015||Cabinet approved of first draft of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Other Product Wastes Management Act on May 19th 2015|
|2020 – 2021||
Content of the latest draft of the WEEE Act
On April 23th 2021, Pollution Control Department has posted the latest draft of Draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Act in its website for public hearing. This Draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Act still adopts the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as its main mechanism. Currently the act is separated to 5 sections with 43 articles which can be summarized as followed,
- 1st section is on “Waste Equipment Management Committee”. The committee will have Minister of Natural Resource and Environment as chairman with representatives from agencies such as Department of Industrial Works, Department of Health, Department of Provincial Administration, Department of Local Administration, Department of Internal Trade, Department of International Trade, and Bangkok Metro Administration. The committee has duty on designated type of waste electrical and electronic equipment to be controlled and amount of fee under this act.
- 2nd section is on “Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Fund”. The fund will be established for the purpose of promotion and development of waste electrical and electronic equipment management. The money for setting up the fund will come from the government initially but the fund will sustain itself with fee under this act. Half of the money in the fund will be used to support waste electrical and electronic equipment return center, waste electrical and electronic equipment transportation and waste electrical and electronic equipment management facilities. Other half of the fund can be used for advertising, research and development. The fund will be management by a committee with Permanent Secretary of Natural Resource and Environment as chairman. Manufacturer and importer of electrical and electronic equipment are entitled to pay fund management fee at a set rate.
- 3rd section is on “Waste Equipment Management”. The regulation states that discard or destroy of waste electrical and electronic equipment is prohibited and waste must be transport to return center. Disassemble of waste electrical and electronic equipment is also prohibited unless under process of reassemble, maintenance or teaching. Waste Equipment Return Center can be established by either local government or electrical and electronic equipment manufacturer and must send the waste electrical and electronic equipment to waste electrical and electronic equipment management facility. Monthly report on amount of waste that Waste Equipment Return Center send to management facility must be reported to Pollution Control Department. Official under this regulation has a duty to control Waste Equipment Return Center.
- 4th section is on “Penalties”. The penalty under this regulation including improperly discard of e-waste (fine of 500 baht), disassemble of e-waste (fine of 5,000 baht), setting up illegal waste electrical and electronic equipment return center (fine of 100,000 baht), and do not report amount of waste transported to management facility (fine of 50,000 baht).
The draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Act is open to public hearing between April 23th to May 23th, 2021. Comments can be sent by email at [email protected] Details of the Draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Act B.E. …. can be reach at https://1th.me/oq9M2