A green parade of bike riders kicked off the ‘Keep Koh Tao Clean, Keep Koh Tao Green’ campaign on the morning of 28 April at Mae Haad pier on the west coast of the island. The event, aimed at raising islanders’ awareness of the growing waste problem, was part of the 2012 annual Koh Tao festival, organised by the Save Koh Tao community group, the Koh Tao Tambon Administrative Organization, and local businesses.
Over 50 bike riders from Koh Tao and Koh Samui joined their hearts and hands to spread the message of reducing waste on the backs of their t-shirts and banners. As they rode around the island they handed out campaign stickers to residents and tourists.
The ‘Keep Koh Tao Clean, Keep Koh Tao Green’ campaign aims to convince people to reduce, separate and recycle their household rubbish. It is one element of a waste management strategy developed by the Koh Tao waste management committee. Established by the Koh Tao Tambon Administrative Organization (TAO), the committee includes TAO members, local government agencies, waste managers from island resorts, and the former director of the island’s public health and environment office. To tackle manpower, financial and landfill area limitations, the committee plans to restructure the entire waste management process from the source to the landfill. Separating rubbish is crucial to better waste management, and depends on broad community involvement.
In collaboration with Regional Environmental Office No. 14, surveys of waste have found that organic wastes account for up to 54% of the waste produced daily on Koh Tao. Construction of the island’s landfill incinerator is incomplete, and its operations have been interrupted by several breakdowns. Dealing with the 5–7 tonnes of waste generated daily on the island presents a big challenge for island authorities.
The possible answers to this challenge include parallel activities such as waste separation from the source to the landfill, processing organic wastes using eco-friendly methods such as pigs and earthworms, biogas generation, composting, and using effective microorganisms (EM) to treat wastewater. Building local capacity is also vital, especially of local authority employees who are keen and interested in waste management.
The green bike ride was organised under a participatory integrated waste management project in Koh Tao funded by Chevron and implemented by IUCN Thailand along with the Koh Tao TAO and key waste management stakeholders.