Submitted by Pollution Control Department

(Note: The Pollution Control Department did not prioritize areas of capacity-building)

Summary of information
Highest priority waste streams
1. Municipal solid waste
2. Industrial waste
3. Hazardous waste
Highest priority areas of capacity building
Narrative summary
Thailand (Pollution Control Department)’s responses to the needs assessment survey suggest that capacity-building for waste management is needed across a wide range of areas. MSW, industrial waste and hazardous waste are seen as the highest priority waste streams to address. While waste management laws cover most waste generators, enforcement capacities must be strengthened, especially against the illegal dumping of sector-specific hazardous waste. The private sector and local communities are potential partners in improving waste management across many waste streams including MSW, but cooperation with both is not emphasized by governmental policies. Instead, the interference of politicians in waste management is common, and compromises the efficiency of responsible institutions. The country’s responses therefore show that overarching and wide-ranging issues affecting many waste streams must be addressed.

Municipal solid waste (MSW)
MSW management is ranked as the highest priority area for capacity-building in Thailand. Above all, the country requires better technical capacity. Skilled human resources for MSW management are needed, and waste collection and disposal practices need to be standardized by carrying out nationwide studies. Policy and implementation areas also need to be improved. A clear framework for MSW management addressing waste segregation, collection, transportation, disposal and monitoring issues is absent. Existing fragmented laws are poorly implemented, supported by a small budget and a lack of staff. While Thailand aims to enforce the Polluter Pays Principle with regards to MSW, efforts to involve waste generators and the private sector need to be strengthened, developing private sector markets for waste management (including contracting or public-private partnerships) However, societal awareness and interest in MSW management is low; waste problems are often simply neglected and environmental values are absent. Political interference on waste management projects also compromise efficiency. MSW management efforts in Thailand therefore must be directed towards technical strengthening, as well as policy-making and community involvement.

Industrial waste
Industrial waste is ranked as a very important area for capacity-building in Thailand. While regulations for the management and disposal of industrial waste exist, there is much room for improvement regarding enforcement. Industrial waste is sometimes smuggled alongside MSW for disposal, causing health and environmental risks as industrial waste may be hazardous. Illegal dumpsites can also be found. The country’s capacity to monitor and ensure compliance with regulations thus needs to be improved. Often illegal dumpsites are not discovered until nearby soil and groundwater is discovered to be contaminated. Networks between authorities and the public for the reporting of activities therefore need to be strengthened. Finally, funds will be needed for the monitoring of industrial waste disposal, as well as to encourage policy compliance by improving accessibility to waste collection and treatment equipment.

Hazardous waste
In Thailand, hazardous waste management is also seen as a great priority. Areas of capacity-building include the enactment of policy. Currently, hazardous waste legislation is fragmented, and is not supported by an overarching framework. Thus a general direction needs to be given to hazardous waste policy, consisting of economic instruments such as encouraging the private sector to invest in waste management activities. In addition, hazardous waste regulations also need to be more effectively enforced. Illegal dumpsites can be found, posing a health and environmental risk if contaminating soil and groundwater. Networks between the public and enforcement authorities need to be strengthened if the monitoring of hazardous waste disposal is to become more comprehensive.

E-waste management is also considered an important area for strengthening in Thailand. A general awareness of the waste stream must be developed. Cheap but more environmentally hazardous electronic goods are popular among the public; they eventually are disposed casually alongside general MSW. E-waste hazards are especially poorly understood by rag-pickers and informal recyclers, but local governments also lack an understanding of the waste stream. The import of e-waste is illegal, but still often practiced. Aside from developing societal awareness, responsible authorities in Thailand also require the support of specific legislation on e-waste. The country will also benefit from a source of funds, which could be partially raised through involving the private sector in e-waste management investment programmes.

Healthcare waste
Healthcare waste management needs to be better coordinated in Thailand. While legally, local governments are responsible for tackling healthcare waste issues, many of these local governments do not have the technical capacity to do so. There are no national regulations or guidelines for healthcare waste in the country, thus some healthcare facilities, especially smaller clinics, treat healthcare waste no differently to MSW. The Polluter Pays Principle applies to healthcare waste, but is rarely enforced. Therefore, the drafting of guidelines and clear delegation of responsibilities is needed. Furthermore, greater funding is needed for healthcare waste management. Healthcare facilities across the country will need to be the target of governmental campaigns to improve environmental awareness and waste management practices; this will require a source of funding. Waste management facilities and technology will also have to be procured, and private sector investment would be welcome.

Waste plastics
Above all, the management of waste plastics needs to be addressed by a separate policy in Thailand. Currently, waste plastics are considered no different to other MSW both legally and by the public. There are no technical facilities that specifically treat waste plastics, thus they are generally disposed alongside MSW in landfills. With a policy addressing waste plastics in place, funds will be needed for the construction of recycling facilities; the private sector could be involved in investment and operation activities.

Organic waste and waste agricultural biomass (WAB)
The management of organic waste and WAB is not considered the greatest priority for Thailand. There is nevertheless clear potential for the resourceful use of these waste streams, given the large agricultural sector in the country. Currently, no policies specifically addressing organic waste and WAB exist; they are classified under MSW. There is little scientific knowledge of the management and resourceful use of these waste streams. With a large agricultural sector in the country, organic waste and WAB management facilities will need to be established across each region. A considerable investment will be needed to improve technical capacities at such a scale, thus the involvement of the private sector can be encouraged.