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Chiang Mai Faces Another Garbage Crisis

By Chhun C.Tate, Voice of Khmer Youth Newspaper, Cambodia

Chiang Mai could soon face a third waste crisis unless it starts to recycle its garbage, experts believe.
In 1994 rubbish was dumped in the city when it ran out of landfill space. Waste was not collected for a month. The same thing happened four years later and for the same reason.
Dr.Suporn Kootatep, of the department of environment engineering at Chiang  Mai University, now predicts a third crisis "very soon"  without measures to separate and recycle waste.
According to Dr. Suporn, it’s important to separate "wet" from "dry" wastes for the recycling process. Wet waste includes food and garden waste; dry waste consists of glass, ceramics, paper, metal and plastic. Chiang Mai generates 200 tonnes of rubbish a day, 91 wet and 109 dry.
The city administration has introduced yellow and green dustbins – yellow for dry waste and green for wet waste. But people mix up dry and wet wastes in the same bin, making recycling virtually impossible.
Waste collection is run by a private company, operating 60 trucks. This is in line with central government’s privatisation policy. Dr. Suporn said there were no plans to end the contract; the company was doing its job properly.
Not many Chiang Mai residents seem keen on recycling, however. Vuth Chapanon, 64, a lecturer of Mae Joe University, said he always separated his own waste in the municipal dustbins – but he did not think many others did the same. "I try to separate as much as I can to help the waste workers," he added. However, he believed waste recycling was becoming more popular in the city.
Sopan Kampen, 45, a vegetable seller at Imboon market said most villagers outside Chiang Mai separated their waste and composted it. Uncomposted waste was burnt. "When I finish selling organic vegetables here, I bring all the waste back home."
According to research by Chiang Mai municipality, there are several major causes of pollution. There are no regulations on human and animal waste management. Waste is usually applied directly to fields or gardens, or thrown into rivers, without drainage systems. Many community ponds are thus highly polluted.
There is also little knowledge of waste treatments such as composting and bio-gas. Only through recycling can such problems be solved, Dr Suporn believes. Chiang Mai municipality has recently launched a 108 million baht recycling project.


Copyright 2009 IMMF.