Posted inStory / Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands: Recyclers and Waste Association Eye Cleaner Country And Green Pacific Games

SIRWMA is optimistic to keep the Solomon Islands clean and pollution-free “especially plastic waste that starts on land and ends up in our oceans.”

The Solomon Islands Recyclers and Waste Management Association (SIRWMA) is doing its best to keep their country clean and pollution-free but with an eye on an event that is going to attract thousands of visitors to their shores in November 2023, The Pacific Games.

The Games, last staged in Samoa in 2019, is the Pacific region’s premiere sporting showpiece, which attracted more than 5,000 athletes and officials. In terms of the environment, the Samoa Games was known for the Greening of the Games with several citywide clean up sessions and a ban on single-use plastic items. Athletes and officials also planted trees to off-set their carbon footprint prior to at the home countries and during the Games in Samoa.

Speaking during the third day of the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable (3rdCPRT),Lindsay Teobasi, President of Solomon Islands Recyclers and Waste Management Association, said on top of efforts to address waste and pollution in their country, they want to ensure that come 2023, Solomon Islands would be ready to host the Games visitors.

And they are making steady progress with SIRWMA, established in 2019, launching a Strategic Plan 2021-2030. The Association has more than 20 registered members consisting of recyclers, waste management advocates, manufacturers, NGOs and government agencies.

“We really want to enhance the capacity of waste management in Solomon Islands through the active participation of the private sector,” Teobasi said, adding that the Association wants to improve collaboration with the government, development partners and strengthen relevant policies and legal frameworks to support a cleaner Solomon Islands.

Like most Pacific countries struggling with waste and pollution, the President of SIRWMA said the challenges across the board are similar. Littering and the illegal dumping of waste is a major problem they are moving to curb. Infrastructure-wise, he lamented the lack of waste management services, limitation of government lands for waste disposal and the expensive cost of shipping to outer islands in efforts to promote recycling.

“When it comes to waste management services, most of it is available in urban and town areas but rural areas have no services,” he said. “Recycling operations are mostly focused on non-ferrous metals, while other wastes are still going to the waste disposal sites.”

But Teobasi is positive that if SIRWMA continues the work outlined in its Strategic Plan 2021-2030, focusing on the 3Rs plus Refuse and Return, they can overcome the problem “especially plastic waste that starts on land and ends up in our oceans.”

“The call is for all our stakeholders to come together to keep Solomon Islands clean,” he said. “This includes families, communities, institutions, government, development partners and donors. We all need to work together to implement Recycling and Waste Management activities to mitigate impacts of climate change both in technical and financial support.”

For the 2019 Pacific Games, all athletes and officials were given reusable water bottles in lieu of the usual single-use plastic bottles. Over 300 water stations were erected around the venue where both athletes and spectators could fill up with fresh, clean water which resulted in an estimated over 1 million, 500ml single use plastic bottles were not used or discarded as rubbish during the Games. 

SPREP and all its partners played a vital role to ensure this and the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands will present another opportunity to continue this legacy.

This story was produced by Leanne, published at SPREP on 19 November 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.

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