Leading in waste management: S.R.W.M.A.

By Marc Membrere 31 December 2021, 2:11AM

The efforts of the Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association in tackling Samoa’s plastic pollution problem has been one of the organisation’s success stories this year.

Some of their highlights this year include the opening of the first-ever recycling facility in Samoa and the exporting of their first plastic bottle container following the extraction of about 5000,000 plastic bottles from the landfill and ocean for recycling.

The association with the help of over 800 volunteers this year were able to wash and clean 500,000 plastic bottles. They also partnered with SENESE to provide opportunities in green jobs for persons with disabilities as well as celebrate the first Recycling Global day in Samoa where 250,000 plastic bottles were collected.

The premiere of the Trashion Show 2021, which was a collaboration with National University of Samoa (NUS) students, had an immediate impact in terms of messaging on waste management practices. Therefore, it was not surprising that the show was later awarded the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) Environment Award 2021, making it the third time they have received the award.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, S.R.W.M.A President Marina Keil said that it would not have been possible if they had not had the support of the Samoa Government as well as the public and the donor partners.

“Last year was a lot of planning for us and there was not much action and then we vouched this year to make this year 2021 a year of action,” Mrs. Keil said.

“And I think we did, we achieved what we set out to do with all the different activities we are doing.”

Mrs. Keil said at the end of the day waste management is anyone’s responsibility.

The association also opened Samoa’s first ever recycling facility and she is thankful to the Embassy of Japan in Apia for providing them with support and funding to make it happen.

“We are grateful, we are thankful that we’re able to be awarded that funding from the Japanese Embassy,” she said.

“It’s a need, we really need a facility, it's actually one of the first things that we should have done for the association when we got the land from M.N.R.E. was supposed to put up a facility.

“And the facility is not only to house the waste that’s coming in but also to be used for the machineries and the different waste activities.

“So it’s the beginning, we’ve only got the one facility and I guess small steps [...] and we plan to build  more so we’ll be able to house the other waste that we’re dealing with.”

And with the new year just around the corner, Mrs Keil said the association has big plans for 2022 with their focus on awareness.

“We’re gonna be big on awareness. We need to improve on awareness and try to encourage the businesses, the schools, the people of Samoa to get on board with the reduce, reuse, recycle,” she said.

Mrs. Keil also encouraged the public to make use of the association’s recycling cages found all over the island.

“I think one of the things we noticed last year where all our cages are put out to the schools and companies, it works very well,” she said.

“They’re well segregated, well looked after. But the downfall of it was putting our cages in the public areas like the bus stops and parks where there’s no monitor 24/7 on it.”

She said that they found a lot of people putting their rubbish in the cages and they had then made the decision to remove the cages from certain areas.

“We feel that the reason being is because there is not enough awareness,” she added.

The association is also looking at new ideas for making their catch phrase of “reduce, reuse recycle” exciting for the general public.

“Because I think that’s one of the things that we learnt, if there is no fun then it’s boring and it won’t work,” said Mrs Keil.

“So through the activities and through the little incentives that we give to the public when we do our pop ups has been very successful and we plan to do more of that next year. 

“We also plan to invite more schools to our facility so the students can be educated.

“We plan to have a school every month visit the facility so we could take them to the landfill and get a feel of what we do at headquarters.”

Mrs. Keil then acknowledged the support of their partners this year: the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of the M.N.R.E. and the Ministry; the Embassy of Japan; Japan International Cooperation Agency (J.I.C.A.); Jprism II; United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.); U.S. Embassy; U.K. High Commission; New Zealand High Commission; Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.); International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.); AFD; and Coca Cola.

She had also acknowledged the support of Vailima, Taula, Nissan Samoa, Adaway Media, Farmer Joe, DMC, Nissan & Hyundai Service Centre, Pure Pacific Water, Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.), Neydith hirage, Waste Management, Body Shop, Leata’s, Pacific Recycle, National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (A.P.T.C.).

By Marc Membrere 31 December 2021, 2:11AM

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