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Law Report: Thailand

Waste Pickers in Thailand


A majority of the workers engaged in waste picking are women in Thailand. Waste pickers work on landfills and also itinerant buyers collect waste through door to door collection. Strong family ties mark many of the communities of waste pickers working on landfills and the community links ensure they function as groups or collectives of workers.

Size and Significance

No clear estimate of the number of workers engaged in the waste trade is available.

Working Conditions

In Thailand, recycling at source generation has long been practiced. Households, shop houses and business sectors normally separate their recyclable waste (mainly paper, glass and metal) and store it until the amount is enough to sell to waste buyer or recycling shops. Waste buyer purchases these materials directly from waste generators.

The waste pickers also work at the dump sites where the trucks carrying waste bring in mixed waste, including hazardous waste. Many of the waste pickers work full time and they are present both at the landfills owned by private companies and those run by the Municipality. Road side collection and picking from waste bins are also popular.


The earnings of a waste picker can be anywhere between 50 bahts to a 200 bahts, but the average daily earnings is about 100 bahts.

Law and Policy

Public Health Act A.E.1992: The Act provides the local administrations the legal framework for managing the waste generated within its jurisdiction. The Act provides for developing and issuing ordinances and the regulations for collection, transportation, and disposal of the waste.

The Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act A.E.1992: The Act empowers local administrations to conduct central disposal facility for public service either by themselves or by licensed private contractors. Environmental Fund is established to disburse as grants or loans to both government agencies and private sector for investment in and operation of those central facilities.

The Environmental Quality Promotion Act, promulgated in 1992, has been the main framework for integrating Thailand’s decentralized domestic waste management scheme into a more systematic approach. Several solid waste management regulations have been promulgated and waste disposal areas have been declared. All hospitals have to separate contaminated wastes from domestic wastes and appropriate waste treatment facilities have been established. Municipalities are encouraged to set up waste management action plans. Areas declared as environmental conservation or pollution control zones are being managed intensively.

The Factory Act. A.E.1992:The Act provides a legal basis for establishment and control of industrial operation including setting and enforcement of industrial standards. The import, export, manufacturing, storage, transport, use and disposal of hazardous substances are controlled according to the Hazardous Substance Act.

Organisation and Voice

Organisations such as the FSCC and the Community Committee of Baan Donyong are working for the welfare of waste pickers.


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