Recycling collection now available at Farmer Joes

Four more supermarkets around Samoa have added collection bins for soda cans and plastic drink bottles as part of a national drive to lift recycling rates. 

Farmer Joes has joined the Samoa Waste Recycling Management Association (S.W.R.M.A) in an effort to clean up Samoa of recyclable waste, by installing collection cages at their Fugalei, Vaitele, Ululoloa and Saleimoa branches.

Manager A.J Cowley said the supermarket and fast-food business (Farmer Joes has Burger Bill’s restaurants at most supermarkets) need to play their part in keeping Samoa clean.

“This is something we want to be part of. We live here in Samoa, so we want to make Samoa better for everybody,” he said.

“If we can make it easier for people to do their part, to make small daily changes like this, that can help improve Samoa.”

Each supermarket has two large cages outside their entrances: one for aluminium cans, and one for plastic bottles. They were built by S.W.R.M.A who collect them when they are full to export overseas for recycling.

Installing the cages at supermarkets is an easy access point for people to start a recycling habit, Mr. Cowley said.

So far, they have seen customers drop in one or two items at a time, maybe emptying their car or finishing off a beverage while they shop. But eventually, people might be bringing their own personal stockpiles, collecting cans at home until they have a bag full to take to the collection station while they shop.

“It’s the path of least resistance,” said Mr. Cowley.

“We are trying to make it easy for our customers to say hey, there is a cage there, let’s throw that thing there.

“Or maybe it will spark a question, why are we doing this, why are there cages there, and they might learn more about why we need to recycle.”

With growing awareness, comes more accountability, he hopes, where people will ask each other to use the bins provided to get recyclable waste to a recycler, instead of to Tafaigata Landfill where it cannot be reused properly.

As part of Samoa’s fast moving consumer goods industry, Mr. Cowley is aware Farmer Joe’s supermarkets import a lot of plastic bottles and aluminium cans. But the answer is not to quit importing them tomorrow, he said.

“We have just under 300 employees, they all have families.

“So we are supporting them, and their families, so we have to be a viable business to support them…. If we don’t bring in these products that the market wants, there are still other people who will bring them in.”

“We are trying to develop some awareness so that as the market changes we will change with it, for the market.”

As well as the four Farmer Joes supermarkets, there are also collection cages at Waste Management in Faleata and Myna’s Supermarket in Vaoala.

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