Thailand's waste bill threatens hundreds earning from recycling

Thailand's waste bill threatens hundreds earning from recycling

RESIDENTS OF the so-called "toxic waste village" are holding their breath over the ongoing legislation of an environment-friendly law that will threaten their livelihood - separating waste and selling the recyclables.

Most residents of Tambon Khok Sa-ard, Khok Chai district in Kalasin province, do not worry much about health or environmental impacts from local junkyards - as long as they can generate income.

Their concerns now surround the fact that if the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) approves the promotion of the Hazardous Waste from Used Product Management Bill, they will likely lose their means of livelihood.

"I am going to be in trouble if the law takes effect and practically forces me out of this business," said Somkid Jomkhamsing, who runs a junkyard.

She said she earned between Bt15,000 (S$630) and Bt20,000 a month - a remarkable success for a rural villager who did not even have to leave her hometown.

Somkid said it had never been easy for people in the remote province to start up a business and the thought of losing her junkyard was painful.

Tambon Khok Sa-ard Administra-tive Organisation's deputy chief administrator Pratuang Nathomthong reckoned many locals would suffer if the law was introduced and they were forced to stop their operation.

"If local junkyards go out of business, workers who earn about Bt300 a day will face the adverse impacts all the same. That's why locals now have a heavy heart," Pratuang said.

He calculated that there were now more than 240 registered junkyard operators in the area.

"This is in addition to many entrepreneurs who have been doing this business without a proper licence," he said.

Nookan Chaiyachoke, the kamnan of Tambon Khok Sa-ard, said the threatened legislation change would affect locals here in a big way.

"So, if this law comes into force, relevant government agencies should step in to help cushion the impact on locals," he said. The Promotion of the Hazardous Waste from Used Product Management Bill would require manufacturers to manage the disposal of their sold units.

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