National University clean up plan launched

The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) has produced its first two year waste management pilot plan, in a move Vice Chancellor Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma has called historic.

Until the end of 2021, staff and students of N.U.S. will monitor, count and sort their waste in order to clean up campus and radically change their behaviour in order to save the planet from pollution.

The Samoa Recycling Waste Management Association (S.W.R.M.A.) and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) have donated 25 bins to be dotted around the campus, for general waste, aluminium cans and plastic bottles, as well as cages for electronic waste and even an oil collecting bin for the mechanic and maritime students.

“This is a momentous occasion for N.U.S. because for the first time we have come up with an interim waste management plan, which is fantastic,” he said.

“This is the start of many more initiatives to come addressing an urgent need for proper waste management to keep not only the University, but Samoa as a whole, environmentally friendly and sustainable.

“The vision of the waste plan is to foster a cleaner and healthier learning environment, enabling staff and students to be resilient in waste reduction, learning healthier practices to apply within and outside the campus.”

The plan ultimately hopes to reduce waste produced by or in the University, he added. 

One of its targets is to swap all rubbish bins across campus with ones that are sorted into recyclables and general waste, and to organise how the different waste types are stored and transported to their final destinations. 

It will also work to safely dispose of hazardous waste and eventually develop a University composting site for organic rubbish. 

Eric Groves from the Governance, Policy and Planning Division of the University lead the writing of the plan.

For now it is still an experiment and an opportunity to look more deeply at the University’s waste habits and management needs. Mr. Groves said he hopes it will be followed by a five or six year plan. 

He wants to build a waste database for monitoring purposes to learn about staff and student behaviour, what kind of waste each teaching programme produces and what can be done to reduce it.

There is also nearly a container’s worth of broken down computers and other electronics that need to be cleared out of the campus, Mr. Groves added.

“We have roughly 400 staff, and a fluctuating number of 2,700 to 3,500 students, so there are computers, phones, toners and everything.

“We will be getting everyone on campus on board, including the wider community.”

He said the only two waste streams not yet in the plan are medical and chemical waste and they need to be considered soon. 

This year, N.U.S. has joined S.R.W.M.A as an official member. Aiono said his campus is commitment to a sustainable waste management strategy. 

“Membership into this organisation will give the university a platform in the waste management industry to network, share and utilise the existing resources and maximise the University’s efforts to sustainably address the waste problem.”

S.W.R.M.A. Deputy President Silafau John Sio congratulated the University on the decision.

“I strongly believe the involvement of N.U.S. as a member of S.R.W.M.A. will have a positive impact on our environment,” he said. 

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