Volunteers needed to clean-up Apia this Saturday

By Sapeer Mayron, 20 May 2019

A least a thousand volunteers are needed for a town wide river clean-up this Saturday morning, from 6:30am until midday.

The Pacific Games Office,  Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P), will coordinate a targeted clean up of central town rivers, mangroves, beach fronts and foreshores: all hot spots where rubbish gathers, and is at risk of being swept out to sea.

Armed with rubbish sacks, rubber gloves, plenty of water, sunblock and a hat, the team are expecting to pick up at least 30 to 35 tonnes of waste: the weight of 20 cars.

S.P.R.E.P pollution advisor Anthony Talouli is leading the clean-up efforts as part of Samoa’s ‘Greening the Games’ initiative: to clean up Samoa, and host a plastic free event for the games.

Mr. Talouli said he expects the clean-up to have impressive results.

 “In 2014, on the Vaisigano River in Mulivai we collected 12 tonnes of waste,” he said. 

“This is the first time we are doing all four rivers, plus a city wide clean, so it’s going to be huge. I would estimate [we’ll pick up] 30-35 tonnes of waste."

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The clean-up sites are: Vaisigano & Mulivai Rivers, Fuluasou River, Sogi Mangroves, Mulinuu Mangroves, Gasegase River, Apia beach front, Mulinuu foreshore area and some areas in Apia town.

Volunteers should gather at at Malaefatu Park at 6.30 am for team leaders to provide safety instructions and divide people into groups, and there will be barbeque and social event from 11am to thank the volunteers. 

Volunteers will either be tasked to collect waste, or sort it at Maleafatu Park. Those sorting will take a random sample of bags to sort though and accounted for in detail.

“We expect to find similar to last Saturday at Mulinuu: 76 per cent plastics and Styrofoam, 24 per cent other waste, and much less plastic bags and straws, like less than 1 per cent, which used to be around 10 per cent,” Mr Talouli said, referring to their efforts with the Pacific Games va’a team at the Mulinuu seawall on the 11th of May.

Deborah Buckley, Peace Corp Response volunteer in the waste management division at SPREP explained all the rubbish will be divided to recyclable, and not.

“Recyclables will be re-bagged for pick-up and recycled off island, [and] non recyclables will be bagged and picked up by trucks and taken to the landfill.

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to take organics off to compost, but we will be able to recycle organics collected at the Athletes’ Village during the games,” she said.

The waste management team are expecting at least 600-1000 people to come help, and hopefully more.

“We need as many as possible: 500, 800, 1000!  We have a lot of territory to cover,” said Ms Buckley.

The next city wide clean-ups will be on the 8th of June which is also World Ocean’s Day, and the 29th of June.

By Sapeer Mayron, 20 May 2019

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