Department mulls ban against the use of plastic bags on islands off Phang-nga

The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is mulling about banning the use of plastic bags Khai, Khai Nok and Khai Nui islands off Phang-nga province in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic waste on the islands.

The department head Ms Sutthilak Ravivan said Tuesday that the ban of plastic bags and other trashes on the three islands could be imposed by virtue of Article 17 of the marine and coastal resources law which prohibits activities deemed a threat to corals around the islands.

Between 3,000-4,000 tourists are visiting the islands every day assuming that each of them generates about one kilograme of trash a day, said Mr Sutthilak, adding, however, that the department would consult with tourism operators about the ban.

Regarding a huge patch of floating garbage spotted in the Gulf off Chumphon province, the department head disclosed that the department, with the deployment of a vessel and with the help of several fishermen, had managed to collect about 5,500 tonnes of floating garbage, many of them plastic.

She disclosed that Thailand ranks the world's No 6 for dumping garbage into the sea, estimated at about 50,000 tonnes a year or 10 percent of the garbage generated in coastal provinces.

The department, she said, will try to improve the ranking for garbage dumping into the sea within a year.

Meanwhile, Mr Sakol Thinakul, director-general of Environment Quality Promotion Department, said the department planned to make use of tax incentive to reduce the use of plastic bags initially in tourist provinces of Surat Thani, Phuket and Krabi.

He cited the case of China which managed to reduce the use of plastic bags by 66 percent by legal means which include heavy fine for business operators who give free plastic bags to their customers.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)