This past week, The Phuket News’ environment desk received an intriguing letter (below) from Walter in Koh Kaeo. We were so pleased with his letter, which included a very practical question, that we decided it deserved immediate and exclusive attention, as the focus of this week’s environment page. Here is the letter, followed by our comprehensive follow-up.
“I’m quite frustrated whenever I check the news and see reps from local organizations, businesses and government offices who only seem to be concerned with with taking smiling group ‘selfies’ as part of their latest beach clean-up ‘public awareness’ campaigns.
“Meanwhile, the rest of the island continues to get neglected with new street-side ‘dumps’ popping up all over the island, especially in and near my ‘Moo Baan’ on the north side of town, which doesn’t have a reliable trash collection system, let alone curbside sorting system.
“Fair enough – I don’t need the government to teach me about the ‘Rs’. I do all my sorting at home anyway, for recycle, reuse and soon composting. That said, I’ve got several bags of dry plastic trash and non-salvageable paper piling up for months (mostly from my friend who just moved out and left me all his waste to deal with).
“Please advise where or how to dispose of this dry solid waste in Phuket – legally and responsibly, unlike my lazy neighbours, who just dump it on the roadside. – Walter in Koh Kaew.”
Thanks for the letter, Walter. We at The Phuket News are very aware and conscious of Phuket’s real challenges in regards to waste, especially in light (perhaps that should be dark) of the looming 10 per cent annual increase in solid waste, and not to mention the shortcomings of past waste management and awarness campaigns. Indeed, we could use more people like you advising the government and ordinary Phuket citizens alike.
Your initiative to Recycle and Reuse (as well as plans to compost your organic waste) is an effective and valuable step that your neighbours will, it should be hoped, embrace some day. One other “R” that needs to be added to this dialogue is “Reduce”. The Phuket government has already started to realise the importance of this “R” (see story below). However, their efforts are mostly focused on controlling the types of solid waste that end up at Saphan Hin Incinerator and Landfill, but have little to do with the root of the problem – excessive and unregulated consumerism.
And to add insult to injury, officials, and particularly the Pollution Control Department, earlier this year touted Phuket as one of the “cleanest provinces in Thailand”. Those who did the study obviously didn’t take notice of all the roadside dump sites we pass by everyday. In case they missed them, we’ve included a list of some of them with their exact coordinates for future studies (see box)
Finally, to answer your question about how or where to dispose of dry solid waste properly in Phuket: as you may know, Phuket has a huge waste-to-energy facility – the incinerator at Saphan Hin. It’s designed to burn off 700 tonnes of solid waste per day, and is currently operating just under capacity. What doesn’t get burnt there, gets piled into one of the five overflowing dump pits surrounding the facility, on top of what once was pristine mangroves.
Most municipal trucks on the island make their rounds to the facility daily, to dispose of not only dry and organic waste, but waste water as well. The disposal fee for solid waste is currently B520 per tonne (that’s 1,000kg). This is usually calculated into curbside management fees, and paid on residents’ behalf to the Phuket City Municipality. However, should you wish or require to make your own rounds to the dump, the disposal process is straight forward.
Head to the facility (Coordinates: 7.863197, 98.394138), and weigh up at the muster point. If it’s your first time, you have to register your vehicle and submit your driver’s license (or a cash deposit if you don’t have a license) as insurance that you won’t dump and run. The facility will only charge you by the kilo (B52 for 100 kg), which they will calculate based on the weight of your vehicle upon arriving, and then leaving. I recently went to dump some non-recyclable solid waste: Loaded the back of my pick-up with about six trash bags (non-salvageable plastic and paper mostly) that had been accumulating for months, and set forth. After weighing in, I proceeded up the ramp as directed to dump my bags into a huge, indoor accumulation pit.
I was utterly awed by this site. The only comparable smell to this place is that of Wat Yan Yao temple in January 2004 (when hundreds of rotting bodies were lined up side by side) ... My load ended up weighing out at 40kg, and cost me B20. They issued me a receipt.
Improper Phuket dumps (Geo coordinates)
1. Soi Nakhale, Kamala (7.928143,98.274604)
2. Soi Pa Sak, Laguna (8.004345,98.304162)
3. Near Layan beach (8.026988,98.296016)
3. Wiset Roadside dump, Rawai (7.784480, 98.329516)
4. Ao Po Marina, Pa Klok (8.060377,98.434146)
5. Soi Nam Jai, Rawai (7.78666,98.32858)
6. Pracha Uthit 5 Rd, parallel to bypass rd (7.940394, 98.382586)
For more details on the above sites, and to add more, go to: goo.gl/C0x5iF