Factories are being urged to find ways to reuse their industrial waste to reduce the amount sent to landfills.
Industrial Works Department deputy secretary-general Phongtheb Jaru-ampornparn said last year's figure still exceeded 1 million tonnes even though the amount has dropped in recent years.
From 2006-09, 7-10% of annual industrial waste was sent to landfills for disposal, with the figure falling to 5% in 2010-11.
Although a zero-waste environment remains hard to achieve, the ideal figure for landfill waste in the short term should be between 200,000 and 500,000 tonnes per year, Mr Phongtheb said.
The department has set up a project to encourage factories to cut waste sent to landfills by reusing, reducing and recycling waste. Last year, 28 out of 54 participating factories received awards for sending no waste to landfills. Most were in the paper and ceramic sectors.
Many factories in the paper, ethanol and sugar industries use their waste as energy, while some have built power plants to generate electricity.
This year, the focus will be on automotive parts, plastic and steel sectors.
"Landfills are not yet a sustainable method of waste disposal because it can be difficult to secure landfills," Mr Phongtheb said.
"Although this might result in an area that can be used for public purposes, there is still a possibility that the waste might leak out and cause environmental problems."
Thailand produces 40 million tonnes of industrial waste per year, with 20 million consisting of scrap metal, paper and wood bought and sold in the market.
The rest includes 6 million tonnes of reusable waste, 6 million for recycling, 7 million for energy, up to 600,000 that are treated and almost 300,000 exported for treatment, including waste from gas separation plants.
"It is undeniable that many waste disposal companies are using illegal means to dispose of waste, especially in provinces such as Samut Prakan, Rayong, Chachoengsao, Prachin Buri and Chon Buri," Mr Phongtheb said.
He said waste generators also need to be responsible after handing over waste to disposal firms or they will face the same punishment of a fine of no more than 200,000 baht or jail terms of more than two years.
Although hazardous waste is less likely to be disposed of illegally, waste such as solvents is regularly seen dumped in landfills to avoid the process of filtering or extraction.
The department has inspected 180 factories that have received 106 licences for recycling waste, with almost half told to improve their processes.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter