Yesterday's phones, today's pollution

As China bans the import of more types of solid waste, there is growing fear that the hazardous materials would find their way into other parts of the region. Tonnes of old electronic products piled up inside a factory compound in Samut Prakan provin
Tonnes of old electronic products piled up inside a factory compound in Samut Prakan province in Thailand. The factory was raided for processing electronic waste illegally.ST PHOTOS: TAN HUI YEE
As China bans the import of more types of solid waste, there is growing fear that the hazardous materials would find their way into other parts of the region. Tonnes of old electronic products piled up inside a factory compound in Samut Prakan provin
As China bans the import of more types of solid waste, there is growing fear that the hazardous materials would find their way into other parts of the region. ST PHOTOS: TAN HUI YEE

Scourge of illegal e-waste imports grows in region

The standalone factory towers over neighbouring shrimp farms near the coast of central Thailand. Battered layers of old phones litter the ground by its gate, and other electronic items bearing Dell, Motorola and Verizon logos pile up inside.

Ms Chonipa Singkorn, whose shrimp pond in Samut Prakan province is on one side of the factory, dismissed it initially despite having to hold her breath when walking past because of the smell of what she thought was burning plastic.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2018, with the headline 'Yesterday's phones, today's pollution'. Print Edition | Subscribe