Title: The Roles of the Community, Private Sector, and Local Authority in Recycling in Bangkok's Gated Communities
Author: Patra Jirawisan
Keywords: RECYCLING/SOURCE SEPARATION/ BANGKOK/HOUSEHOLD SOLID WASTE/ GATED COMMUNITIES/ MOO BAAN/PRIVATE RECYCLING AGENT/LOCAL AUTHORITY/BMA/BANGKOK METROPOLITAN ADMINISTRATION
Recycling, as proposed by the UN to be one of the means to achieve sustainable development, has not been practiced sufficiently at the household level in Bangkok where waste problem is endemic. This research focuses on recycling in Bangkok's gated communities of which their prevalence and consuming-class residents render them an ideal target group for a source separation program. The roles of three major stakeholders were examined -- the gated community itself, the private recycling agent, and the local authority in charge of waste management. The goal is to understand the interrelated roles of these three stakeholders, and how they affect recycling efforts in gated communities. The research was conducted on 23 gated communities, out of which 4 were chosen for case studies. Interviews were conducted with community members, private recyclers, and officers at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the municipalities.
Findings indicates that the first two stakeholders were found to play an active role in the community recycling program as community residents sort waste to be collected for sale later to private recycling agents (who then sell it to bigger buyers), in the absence of a formal recycling system. In terms of the gated community, findings show that social capital — in the aspects of the community's committee, its supporting staff, its pro-recycling leader, volunteers, and networks -- as well as convenience especially of having a central storage area for recyclables play a crucial role in the success of a recycling program, while economic status may potentially play a role although further research is needed to confirm this. In terms of the private recycling agent, its availability and reliability play an important role. In terms of the local authority such as the BMA, it plays no role in the gated communities' recycling program. However, the research points out that the role of the local authority is, in fact, needed to improve the current situation. Findings reveal three potential factors that have been preventing the BMA from contributing more to recycling. The first is the lack of commitment from policymakers on recycling, which is caused by the constant change of leadership, the lack of staff in the field, and the lack of public awareness. The second is the potential conflict of interest on the part of different participants in the informal recycling system. The third is the impracticality of the BMA in issuing regulations to support source separation due to the lack of real mandate, and the absence of supportive system and the right policy mix.
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