PH gov’t urged to forbid e-waste imports following Thai ban

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With the observance of the International E-Waste Day on Wednesday, Oct. 14, environmental health groups EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace nudged the Philippine government to ban the importation of electronic waste, or e-waste, like what Thailand has recently done.

Last September 15, the Thai Ministry of Commerce announced the start of a historic ban on the importation of 428 types of electric and electronic components and scraps.

Violators will be jailed for up to 10 years, or fined five times the price of the illegal waste import, or both.

As reported by Bangkok Post, the government will also carry out activities “to encourage public participation in environmental protection” as it urged all sectors “to hasten efforts to improve the efficiency in handling domestic e-waste, optimize resources and recycle properly.”

“The Thai policy banning the entry of e-waste was imposed to protect public health and the environment from toxic pollution resulting from the dirty recycling of these hazardous waste imports.  It’s high time for our own government to follow in the footsteps of Thailand and enact a sweeping ban on the importation of e-waste, plastic waste and other wastes for environmental health and justice,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner at EcoWaste Coalition.

“With our neighbors closing doors to all kinds of waste imports, our country is in danger of becoming the most preferred destination in the region for waste. The Philippine government must plug all holes that allow our country to be a dumping ground by ratifying the Basel Convention Ban Amendment and enacting a total ban on waste imports,” said Marian Ledesma, campaigner at Greenpeace Philippines.

The sweeping prohibition on waste imports, the groups asserted, will serve as a strong deterrent against schemes to transfer hazardous waste and other wastes from other countries to the Philippines where such wastes can be cheaply processed, recycled or disposed of at the expense of people’s health and the environment.

The groups cited the botched smuggling of e-waste — falsely declared as “assorted electronic accessories” — from Hong Kong that was discovered at a port in Northern Mindanao in May 2019. 

As reported by customs officials, the shipment was intended as a “test cargo,” and that 70 more containers would have followed had it not been intercepted. The trash was returned quickly to the sender after its discovery.

Both groups are pushing for the ratification by the Duterte administration of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment, an international law prohibiting the export of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries, and for the imposition of a more encompassing ban on waste importation.

Last year, the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Roy Cimatu to reiterate the need to ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment and to propose a comprehensive ban on the importation of wastes, including plastic and electronic wastes, which is still allowed under DENR A.O. 2013-22.

DENR A.O. 2013-22 permits the importation of “recyclable materials” such as scrap metals, scrap plastics, electronic assemblies and scrap, used oil and fly ash subject to certain limiting conditions and compliance to the requirements set by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

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