Don’t just sit there – Bangkok gets tough on sofa dumpers

Bangkok is getting tough on people who dump bulky waste like old mattresses and other furniture into waterways. Large objects trapped in drains have been one of the main causes of floods in the city.

Now, chucking your old sofa into the nearest storm drain will cost you a 10,000 baht fine. There are also rewards for citizen spies who help identify the dumpers.

Bulky furniture does not just disappear with the morning mist. Bangkok accepts that such items must be taken away and has set up a regular collection service with each district designating a collection spot at a specific time of the week.

Furniture, Tonnes of Waste Blocking Bangkok Drainage (Photos)
Bulky furniture does not just disappear with the morning mist.

While heading in the right direction, the city, where more than 10,000 tonnes of waste are generated each day, still needs to do more to ease the problem. One designated site, once a week for each district is hardly enough. And how are people to remove such objects from their residences? Bangkok should learn from other capitals with a successful record, like London, for instance. There, contractors pick up large household items and charge appropriately charge per item, roughly £29 (1,250 baht) per sofa, The city subsidises payments for residents with disabilities but is still substantially less than Bangkok residents will soon be paying to throw their trash into the drains.

In The Hague of the Netherlands, the service is free. Residents just have to make an appointment and ensure the unwanted item is safe and easy to pick up.

Both cities have claimed to be doing all they can in recycling and reusing. In London, helps match people with items to throw away and those with space to fill.

Freecycle - recycling unwanted items | Your care Your support WiltshireBoth the UK and the Netherlands are well-known for lively second-hand markets, car boot sales and flea markets. So it is clear that Bangkok needs to do more than impose stiff-yet-unenforceable regulations to reach out to prospective partners and recruit them.

The city cannot ignore local communities. Instead, it should engage them and give them a hand. Bangkok has an army of waste dealers who have taken an active role for decades in waste recycling. It’s time the city to support this group in such a vital task.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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