PHUKET CITY: About 20 local leaders attended a seminar at the Royal Phuket City Hotel yesterday to hear the findings of a study on waste management issues. The study’s final report called for more efficient waste disposal practices by local government bodies in order to support efforts to sort trash prior to collection. The seminar was presented by Pireeyutma Vanapruk, President of The Development of Environment and Energy Foundation, a non-governmental organization that conducted the study, in cooperation with researchers from the Prince of Songkla University Phuket Campus. The work was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Among those attending the seminar was Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, President-elect of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization. The research paper, entitled A Study of Improvement of Waste Management for Phuket Province, called for local municipalities and tambon administration organizations (OrBorTor) to improve waste collection practices to support trash separation and allow the island’s sole trash incinerator to operate more efficiently. What the study found was not encouraging. It concluded, for example, that a pilot trash separation project in Thalang was essentially futile because the trash was recombined when collected by municipal workers. The report noted that the Phuket generates about 350 tons of garbage daily, about 100 tons more than the rated maximum capacity of the incinerator in the Saphan Hin area of Phuket City. Operated by the city, the incinerator is designed to handle dry waste that has already been separated. The disparity between the incinerator’s capacity and the amount of waste generated daily needs to be addressed now in order to avoid a future crisis, the report said. A trash separation facility was opened next to the incinerator last December, with the goal of reducing the 340 tons a day burned at the facility by about 15%, or 40-50 tons a day. But even with the sorting facility, the sheer volume of waste still results in wet and dry wastes being burned together, reducing the incinerator’s efficiency. K. Pireeyutma concluded that further study is required to determine whether “technical modifications” to the incinerator are required. Phuket Town Municipality has asked the central government for 50 million baht a year to help run the incinerator, which is a more expensive to operate than a landfill despite being able to generate electricity, which can be sold. The Municipality is also considering building a second incinerator. K. Pireeyutma told the Gazette that the study began in April this year, and was prompted by widespread suspicion and complaints about the 200-baht-per-ton charge that Phuket City levies on other districts for burning waste at the facility. A key part of the research involved a detailed study of waste disposal practices by members of a 30-man research team who visited and collected information from hotels, municipal offices, local businesses and OrBorTor offices, K. Pireeyutma said. He concluded that local waste management practices need to change in order to minimize the amount of waste that needs to be collected and incinerated. In addition, he said, the efficiency of waste management practices must be increased, along with cooperation on trash separation between local government bodies and the private sector.
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