international: Thailand: A Kingdom of Waste Management Opportunities

When one thinks of Thailand, images of an exotic land far away immediately come to mind: exquisite architecture, sumptuous food, seductive night life, waste management business opportunities ... waste management business opportunities?

For example, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) strongly supports privatizing medical waste management services. The reasons vary:

* expand the collection and capture a larger share of the infectious waste stream [approximately 40 percent of the 30 tonnes per day (tpd) of infectious waste generated in Bangkok currently is collected by BMA, the remainder goes into the municipal waste stream or elsewhere];

* improve the regional medical waste incinerator's operating efficiency;

* establish a service fee program (medical waste generators are currently not charged); and

* implement a waste management public relations/education program.

Other potential business opportunities exist including on-site treatment options and the expansion of existing treatment capacity.

Except for two on-site hospital incinerators, Bangkok's medical waste currently is collected by BMA's fleet of 15 trucks.

The waste is delivered to BMA's 20 tpd regional incineration facility at On-Nut. Supplemental fuel is needed for combustion to compensate for the waste's 70 percent moisture content. The incineration ash is landfilled adjacent to the incinerator.

By comparison, hazardous wastes in Thailand are treated at two locations. The first is a treatment facility for heavy metal contaminated wastewater located at Samae-Dam. (Treated sludge is landfilled at Ratchaburi.) The other is a demonstration landfill operated by General Environmental Conservation Co. Ltd. at Map-Tu Phut Industrial Estate.

Several factories have on-site incinerators for treating hazardous waste. There also are four treatment facilities being developed by the Ministry of Industry's Department of Industrial Works (DIW), including a 100 tpd incinerator and three 500 tpd physical/chemical treatment facilities.

DIW's plans to own the facilities, which are being purchased on a turn-key basis. The contractors are to provide six months of start-up assistance and training for DIW staff. The long term plan is to contract with private companies to operate the treatment facilities. Europeans, particularly the Germans and Danes, have been very active in providing assistance on hazardous waste management issues.

Other areas of need include:

* better waste quantity/characteristics data, using a Thai-based definition of hazardous waste;

* better risk assessment data to address public health and environmental concerns related to treatment facility siting; and

* an assessment of operational procedures and the technical/cost suitability of treatment options.

BMA also is interested in the privatization of the collection and disposal system for commercial and non-hazardous industrial waste generated within Bangkok. These waste streams range from 4,000 and 6,000 tpd.

This effort could require trucks and containers for collection, equipment storage and maintenance facilities, materials recovery facilities for recycling and landfills.

Although there are many reuse and recycling activities in Bangkok, there is room for much improvement. For example, coffee tins are commonly reused to store and transport used sharps. At the Rajavithi Hospital, workers physically separate cardboard, glass, plastic and paper from the non-infectious waste stream. These materials are destined for further processing and recycling by a network of small private operations in an expansive outdoor shanty town near the regional medical waste incinerator.

Hazardous waste minimization (pollution prevention), involving production process modifications to reduce waste, offers another area of opportunity. Environmental organizations in Thailand support the need for an assessment of business opportunities such as equipment sales resulting from modifying production processes.

For more information, contact: Jonathan Kiser, 35180 Dornoch Court, Round Hill, Va. 20141. Phone/ Fax: (540) 338-6358. E-mail: jvlkiser@

New Facilities The California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento has approved a new facility to sort the city of El Cajon's solid waste. The new facility, operated by Universal Refuse Removal, will receive and transfer up to 1,000 tons per day of solid waste, recyclables and green waste. It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An $8 million landfill gas-to-energy plant has begun operation at Lake View Landfill, Erie, Penn., and will provide enough energy to serve approximately 5,000 homes. The new facility houses two Caterpillar G3616 generators, each capable of producing 3.05 megawatts of power and using 1.6 million standard cubic feet per day of landfill gas.