Samoa's waste management journey highlights

By Talaia Mika 19 March 2023, 9:00AM

Over two decades ago, Samoa gave minimal attention to waste management with limited waste collection and recycling initiatives being implemented to ultimately exacerbate waste, water, and air pollution.

However, a change in culture has been observed with companies, the Samoa Government as well as organisations and individuals working together to improve waste management in the country by setting up waste recycling bins and recycling facilities.

The senior advisor of the Environmental Management Division at the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Amano Shiro, spent 20 years in Samoa and recalled the first time he arrived in Samoa compared to today.

"Waste collection was only in Apia and now all throughout Upolu and Savai'i people can now enjoy waste service and is a great transition from when the project started," Mr. Shiro told Samoa Observer.

"There was no recycling at the time and now a lot of companies including private companies are collecting recycles on their own."

JICA over the years had been working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Samoa Government, local companies and organisations in Samoa as well as other Pacific nations to create clean cities with the goal of building sustainable societies.

This was through the Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management (J-PRISM) in Pacific Island countries which is now in its Phase II and is anticipated to be completed this month.

The J-PRISM project started its implementation phase in 2000 where individual experts were dispatched to certain greater areas in Pacific Island countries for training purposes. Through this project, JICA managed to develop more than 100 waste management leaders in Pacific Island nations.

In 2021 the Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association (SRAWMA) celebrated 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 efforts of SWARMA in tackling Samoa’s plastic pollution problem have been one of the organisation’s success stories this year. The association with the help of over 800 volunteers this year was 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.

Mr. Shiro said that some of the challenges encountered along the journey of waste management in Samoa were the remoteness of the island country, not only Samoa but other Pacific island countries.

"Challenges include specific constraints of the island countries, the remoteness, smallness, isolation, and dependence on the foreign aid and foreign materials," he said.

"Materials tend to be one-way, always come from outside to island then end up in a landfill or wherever and that is very different from continent countries that's why waste management for Pacific island countries is much more difficult than continent countries."

By Talaia Mika 19 March 2023, 9:00AM
Samoa Observer

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