BANGKOK — One of Thailand’s mobile providers now offers convenient drop-off spots for phone-related e-waste.
Instead of throwing away that cracked Samsung phone to be buried in landfill, consider dropping it off at one of the 37 AIS branches around Bangkok.
The “Throw Away E-waste with AIS” program accepts donations of old mobile phones, mobile phone batteries, power banks, earphones, charging cables, chargers, and other phone accessories (but not regular batteries, and larger electronics like computers).
Small plastic bags are available at the boxes for mobile phone batteries that may leak.
There are also drop-off boxes at seven Central Department stores: in front of the Superdry store in Central Lardprao, in front of Jaspal at Central Bangna, in front of McDonald’s at Central Rama II, in front of the Body Shop at Central Rama III, in front of Lacoste at Central Pinklao, in front of F Fashion shop at Central Rama IX, and by the information center next to Jaspal at Central Festival Eastville.
Here’s a map of all the dropoff sites:
Although local district offices do accept e-waste, they are lumped into a broader category of toxic waste. This campaign is one of the first to provide a wide range of convenient dropoff sites. Previous channels to donate your e-waste in Thailand were sporadic, and included mailing your items to short-term government campaigns or temples.
Supatchaya “Ann” Techachoochart, the co-owner of Thailand’s first refillable bulk supply store, Refill Station, welcomes the campaign and hopes it will increase awareness among Thais to properly get rid of their e-waste.
“If the private sector is doing this, then it helps push the issue, and maybe the public sector will do so as well,” Ann said.
According to the campaign’s page, the donated e-waste will be sorted, dismantled, and reduced into metals, gold, silver, plastic, lithium, and so on. Ann says that all the waste will be shipped to Singapore to be processed, since e-waste recycling is not legally covered by Thai law yet.
Ann warned against keeping e-waste around the home due to the presence of harmful substances such as lead and mercury. Environmentally, not only will these leak into nature, the process of gaining such materials in the first place can be unethical. For example, the mining of coltan – used in most smartphones and computers – in Sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in conflicts over obtaining the mineral, as well as destroyed wildlife habitats.
“It’s a blood mineral in the Congo. If you can’t imagine what it’s like, think of Avatar and the conflict to get resources,” Ann said. “So by recycling, we can reuse those ores, instead of mining for them in nature again.”