“We, the people of the Pacific, must realise that we all have the right to a clean and safe environment, and in doing so, also need to recognise that as a community, we continue to violate our own rights by mistreating our waste, according to the founder of the Pacific Recycling Foundation (PRF) and CEO of Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited, Amitesh Deo.

He stated this while addressing participants at the side event on Circular Economy at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) 31st Meeting in Apia, Samoa.

Deo said as the world takes its journey to a circular economy, “We the people of the Pacific must ensure the landscape of waste management and recycling gets shaped with some core fundamental principles that have ensured our resilience as a community.”

“We must ensure that as we implement new procedures and systems, it is done with the principles of ‘Do No Harm’, where new concepts should not be implemented to do further harm to the environment and communities. This is also our plea to safeguard those involved in informal waste picking,” said Deo

The PRF founder added there also needs to be recognition of local knowledge and expertise and the journey of the circular economy should not be taken on the notion of profit before people.

“As we shape our growth in not just waste management but all sectors, we must ensure local voices do not get drowned over overseas expertise”.

Deo also highlighted the important work done by its PRF’s corporate arm, Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited (WRFL) – its commitment to changing the landscape of waste management in Fiji and the Pacific as well as positively influencing the lives of those involved in waste picking, through tailor-made recycling programmes and structured support.

“We are also committed to our long-term vision and dream that if everyone in Fiji and the Pacific starts practicing recycling, we will be able to justify large-scale investment into local recycling and upcycling facilities,” said Deo.

He said this means that progressively, “We will be able to transition some of the Collection Pillars of Recycling, in particular women and members of the LGBTQI+ groups, into green jobs.”

This story was originally published at Pacific Recycling Foundation on 07 September 2023, reposted via PACNEWS.

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