Students lead the way

St. Mary’s Primary School 11 and 12 year-olds have been rescuing plastic bottles and aluminium cans from the landfill for as long as they have been at school, and this week they finally gave a crate-load away for recycling.

As part of the Leadership Samoa class of 2016 project, primary schools were challenged to make an impact in recycling, composting, gardening and more.

St Mary’s took on recycling, collecting plastic bottles and aluminium cans from their homes, sidewalks and even the marketplaces. 

School teacher Theresa Anitelea said she’s proud of the hard work her 80-odd students put into the school-wide recycling project. 

The school canteen doesn’t sell canned drinks, so all the aluminium cans collected came from outside the school, Ms. Anitelea shared.

“At first the girls were a bit embarrassed to collect rubbish in public where people could see them, and it’s not an easy thing to do,” she said.

“But it’s worth it because at the end of their education they will know how to sort their recycling, and understand the problem of waste.”

Ms. Anitelea said the girls’ confidence has grown too and they’re proud of themselves and their work.

As well as picking up bottles and cans from public spaces, students struck a relationship with two businesses who gave them their recycling as well, diverting yet more recyclable products from landfill.

Arriving to congratulate the school and collect the recycling, president of the Samoa Waste Recycling Management Association (S.W.R.M.A), Marina Keil said she was exceptionally proud of the extra effort by the students.

S.W.R.M.A. is responsible for getting the crate of recycling offshore for processing.

“The school collected probably three thousand cans, and something like 700 plastic bottles for recycling” she estimated.”

Ms. Keil said she will have an exact volume for the students when the recycling is loaded into the shipping container. 

S.W.R.M.A. is focussing on exporting low-value waste products and plastic bottles and cans fit the criteria. “The volume of collection across Samoa is so low because it’s such a low value product,” she said.

Despite that, Ms. Keil said after a year and a half, she has shipped six tonnes of aluminium cans off shore for recycling. 

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