Waste management awareness needed

There should be more awareness on the effects of burning rubbish and disposing of waste in the community, says Samoa Conservation Society and Samoa Waste and Recycling Management Association.

SCS President James Atherton told the Samoa Observer on Thursday that burning and dumping of trash is bad for the environment for various reasons.

"Obviously burning trash can release hazardous chemicals, especially if it's plastic waste or hazardous waste into the air," he said.

He added that the smoke is also a nuisance for people while dumping rubbish in rivers or mangroves will result in waste getting into the food chain or cause blockages in rivers during floods. 

Mr. Atherton said Samoa has laws to regulate these activities such as the Waste Management Act 2010, the Lands and Surveys and Environment Act 1989, the Water Resource Management Act 2008 and the Marine Prevention Pollution Act 2008. 

With Samoa being one of few countries in the world to have free rubbish collections systems, he said there is no excuse for littering or dumping rubbish anywhere other than the allocated dumping grounds.

"People need to understand why they should not be doing it in the first place, and feel a responsibility to stop doing it,” added Mr Atherton.

According to the S.C.S. President, "throw away" items or single-use packaging such as plastic bottles contributes to excessive waste, and consumers should try and reduce or refuse to use such items. 

He added that there are ways to reduce rubbish going into or out of the system and when to get rid of it together with its management and it all starts with community awareness. 

The SCS has been working to improve community understanding of waste management and environmental threats through their outreach work, namely a programme called Green Livelihoods where they work alongside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the association.

Mr Atherton emphasised that he would like to see more recycle bins in the communities as well as more awareness about what they are for and how to use them. 

S.W.R.M.A. Vice President, Silafau Ioane Sio, told the Samoa Observer in a telephone interview on Thursday that there is a regulation against the burning of rubbish but it is a matter of educating people.

He said with vegetation rubbish people can use that for composting for their plants instead of burning it and indicated that there is room for the association to assist the villages by working together with the M.N.R.E.

The association is yet to undertake any exercises in the community relating to recycling, but they run programmes in schools and provide them with recycling bins and cages for bottles and cans.

Similar to sentiments expressed by Mr. Atherton, Silafau urged the public to make use of the free rubbish collection programme run by the Government, while adding that the public can also bring their recyclable materials to their Tafaigata office and not to dispose of it in rivers or inland areas.

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