A project is underway in Samoa to maintain a clean and resilient environment by improving the management of waste oil

The safe and effective management of used oils or commonly known as waste oils – from the collecting, transporting, storing, and disposal – was under the spotlight during the first stakeholder consultation on a National Used Oil Management Plan for Samoa on Tuesday.

Hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the consultation invited all stakeholders who deal with used oils in Samoa in various capacities, whether directly or indirectly, from the importing stage right down to disposal. Among the participants were representatives from the Ministry of Customs and Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association, and selected local companies.  

The objective of the first consultation was to introduce the stakeholders to the Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) project, an Agence française De Development (AFD) funded project which aims to improve sanitation, environmental, social and economic conditions in Pacific island members.

The project aims to improve the management of waste oil, for which activities are being implemented in Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. It aims to achieve this through the implementation of pilot projects within these countries, as well as developing national used oil management plans. 

“Used oil is prioritised as a problem in Samoa, with increasing stockpiles and limited disposal and recycling options, no effective implementing mechanism is in place, it is believed that most waste and used oil is discarded into the environment through illegal dumping, burning or used for other purposes,” said Aliimuamua Setoa Apo, Principal Officer for the Environment and Conservation Division of MNRE.

“These actions are considered inappropriate and not environmentally friendly to the health of our people and the conservation of our environment and resources. It is important to consider these arising threats from the improper management of used oils.” 

“If poor used oil management is to be improved both at national and local level, we need to take action now and work together to manage in an environmentally friendly and sound manner,” “We are the problem, but we are also the solution” he added.

Anthony Talouli, Acting Director of SPREP’s Waste Management and Pollution Control said the consultation is the start of a journey towards developing a plan on how to manage used oils in a way to maintain a clean and resilient Pacific environment.

“The most common oil imported into Pacific island countries is lubricant oil. These are used in the powering of engines for motor vehicles and other big machineries. Through the SWAP project, there also exists an opportunity to provide training on the effective and safe management of used oil, from the collection to transporting and storing. It will also include training on how to respond to spills, which is an inevitability when dealing with used oils,” Talouli said.

The notion was welcomed by Marina Keil of the Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association (SRWMA), who deal with the disposal of used oil in Samoa. She identified one of the challenges they face when dealing with used oils is the lack of capacity or know-how.

The stakeholder consultation was the start of a process leading to the development of the National Used Oil Management Plan and to collect information from stakeholders who deal with used oils and who therefore are aware of existing issues pertaining to the management, use, and storage of used oils in the country. The information collected from stakeholders at this first, as well as future consultations, will be used to feed into the development of the National Used Oil Management Plan, to guide the relevant local experts and authorities in the safe and effective management of used oil.

This story was written by Leanne, originally published at SPREP on 09 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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