Welcome to paradise: Thai beach Koh Samui turns into dumping ground for salmon waste packaging

Editorial Staff

Norwegian fish exporters are estimated to produce 65 million styrofoam boxes every year.

A report from Norwegian broadcaster NRK has highlighted the environmental impact of Norwegian salmon exporters, with packaging waste from their products ending up on the beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand.

This development has sparked criticism from environmental groups and embarrassment for the Norwegian government, which is actively participating in negotiations for a global plastics agreement.

“It is a shame that Norwegian companies, which like to appear sustainable, contribute to worsening the plastic pollution in other countries,” secretary general of the WWF World Nature Fund, Karoline Andaur told NRK. “It is not the responsibility of Thai waste workers to clean up after Norwegian seafood exporters.”

The images from Koh Samui show discarded styrofoam boxes, commonly used by Norwegian fish exporters, littering the beach. These boxes are reportedly difficult to recycle locally due to the wind dispersal and the presence of color pigments which cannot be processed. Anusit Srisra, owner of a local sorting center, expressed frustration over the challenges posed by the foreign waste.

Pissed off

Greenpeace Norway’s leader, Frode Pleym, criticized the situation as embarrassing for Norway, especially given the country’s involvement in international efforts to combat plastic pollution.

“I get sick and pissed off by these pictures. It is embarrassing to be Norwegian when these areas overflow with plastic and styrofoam packaging with Norwegian flags on it,” he told NRK. “I hope the government is just as embarrassed, and gets a comprehensive and binding global plastic agreement in place.”

The Norwegian government, through Development Minister Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, acknowledges the complexity of the negotiations involving major plastic-producing countries and nations affected by plastic waste.

Despite claims from the EPS association that 80% of EPS (styrofoam) boxes are recycled, the reality on the ground in places like Koh Samui suggests a significant environmental impact from exported waste.

The Norwegian seafood industry, represented by companies like Grieg Seafood and Firda Seafood, is pushing for improvements in packaging sustainability and waste management practices.

“If the color pigment on the boxes is an obstacle to reuse, that is something we have to look at,” said Grieg Seafood’s Kristina Furnes.


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