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River clean up finds 19,000kgs of rubbish

Samoa’s four urban rivers were hiding nearly 19,000 kilogrammes of waste, picked up by volunteers last month.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (S.P.R.E.P.) led a thousand strong clean-up of the town area and the rivers that meet it. Volunteers counted and weighed the rubbish for analysis, and S.P.R.E.P. delivered the results to M.N.R.E. last week. 

Volunteers picked up a strange variety of rubbish, including three motherboards in Gasegase River and 11 pieces of copper wire in Faluoso River.

But the overwhelming majority of rubbish was plastic and foam packaging, accounting for 74 per cent of rubbish analysed. 

The town area was, predictably, the worst spot for rubbish. Plastic shopping bags, plastic drink bottles, and non-food plastic wrappers were picked up in the hundreds, and plastic food packaging totalled a whopping 1,877 pieces, or 97 per cent of all plastics collected.

While the plastic bag and plastic straw ban has only been in effect four months, the data reveals how much work remains to be done to address consumer behaviour around waste. 

Altogether, the team counted 6,835 pieces of rubbish, or 1,465 kg. That is just 8 percent of how much rubbish was collected in just four hours early on a Saturday morning. 

S.P.R.E.P. inferred that based on the number of pieces in that 8 percent, the total collected must amount close to 85,438 pieces (it weighed 18,624 kg). 

This Saturday, M.N.R.E is hosting the second of three pre-Pacific Games clean ups, this time focusing on the Apia Foreshore. It coincides with World Ocean’s Day.

Volunteers will help clean the stretch between the Samoa Meteorological Office in Mulinu’u, past Sheraton Aggie Grey’s in Vaisigano and all the way across the seawall to Moata’a.

They will begin at 7am, and there will be a barbecue for participants following at Malaefatu Park, Sogi. 

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