As Koh Samet clamps down on plastic, Palau bans sunscreen to save coral

Koh Samet

Island destinations in Asia-Pacific are taking action to curtail the environmental toll that tourism brings.

On Thailand’s popular tourist island of Koh Samet, a campaign to discourage the use of plastic bags and styrofoam has been rolled out to reduce the amount of plastic waste.

According to local reports, residents and shop owners found to be using plastic bags and styrofoam containers will face a fine of 1,500 baht (US$46), although reports speculate that it is unlikely that tourists will be penalised at this point.

The chief of the Khao Laem Ya–Mu Ko Samet National Park announced that members at the pier will check visitors for plastic bags. As of now, tourists will not be fined if found with plastic bags, but will be offered tote bags. There is doubt surrounding the enforceability of this new ruling.

According to a campaign video released on the park’s website last week, the estimated 1,500 tourists who visit the island each use about eight plastic bags, bringing the amount of plastic dumped on the island to 12,000 bags.

Meanwhile, the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau is set to impose a widespread ban on sunscreen from 2020 to protect its coral reefs.

The government has signed a law that restricts the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products that contain a list of ten different chemicals. These ingredients are believed to be highly toxic to marine life, and can make coral more susceptible to bleaching.

The ban on “reef-toxic” sunscreen is expected to take effect from January 1, 2020. Retailers violating the law from that date will be fined US$1,000, while tourists who bring banned sunscreens from that date will have them confiscated.

source: TTG Asia