Despite attempts made to clear Kayangel’s beaches of plastic pollution, many of the state’s shores remain littered with trash—trash which isn’t from Kayangel.
Only two months following the Palau Visitor Authority’s (PVA’s) Ocean 16 cleanup on Kayangel, which brought together PVA staff and citizens of Kayangel in an effort to bag and dispose of trash on the beaches, the coast surrounding Kayangel Islet is once again piled with trash brought in from the ocean, ranging from plastic bottles to packets of hair-gel.
Situated at the northernmost point of Palau, Kayangel is open to trash drifting in not just from the other islands but from the continents as well.
Lazarus Meyar, a resident of Kayangel who works as a State Ranger, a tour-operator, and a conservationist, pointed out that the trash seems to be originating from many different places.
“There are sandals that look like they come from Japan,” he said. “But we also see bottles filled with red spit from betel, which means they probably come from other islands in Palau.” Kayangel State Governor Richard Ngiraked said that he has been working with the PVA along with the Cooperative Research and Extension (CRE) Department of Palau Community College to come up with a solution. “We will start work next month to keep our beaches free of trash,” Governor Ngiraked said.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which has been involved in many developmental projects for Palau’s infrastructure, has also been doing assessments to determine if it can be of help in addressing the problem of Kayangel’s drifting plastic pollution.
Possible solutions to help mitigate the trash problem which have been voiced by the many interested parties include creating a recycling system right on the island and using a cart made for trash-collection. But all seem to agree that the initial flow of trash onto the island will be a difficult problem to solve.
“It seems that the real problem is that people are putting plastic trash into the ocean,” said Mr. Meyar. “And I don’t know how we can stop that.”

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