BAN Investigation Reveals Illegal Imports of Scrap Electronics from Europe
Most of the workers were under-paid migrants who had not undergone any training on handling such wastes.
Seattle-based Basel Action Network (BAN) has released the results of investigations carried out by it in Thailand by way of tracking the end-of-life electronics imported into that country using GPS trackers. The investigations indicate that scrap electronics were being sent from Europe to facilities in Thailand. The GPS tracking studies by BAN had revealed illegal e-scrap exports from the US to developing countries. This is the first time that devices originating in Europe were revealed.
BAN has released the information, following the police raid at Wai Mei Dat Thai Recycling’s factory at Tambon Plaeng Yao, which revealed that the owner of the facility was using false customs declarations to import hazardous and potentially dangerous electronic waste. The raid was in response to the directive issued to Thai Police by the country’s Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.
The raid revealed huge piles of electronic waste including keyboards, electrical wires and computers. Most of the workers were under-paid migrants who had not undergone any training on handling such wastes. It found that the company used primitive techniques including burning of electronic circuit boards to extract heavy metals. The BAN authorities have cited three other sites that process e-scrap illegally. Jim Puckett, Executive Director, BAN noted that Thai authorities have been informed of the locations. It plans to release a detailed report later, he added.
Thailand is one of the favorite destinations of foreign e-waste disposal by developed countries. It is alleged that waste management facilities illegally import hazardous industrial waste from foreign countries to be burned for precious heavy metals.