The government of Marshall Islands has endorsed a 10-year masterplan for solid waste management in Majuro, seeking to establish a sound garbage disposal system and to address the landfill crisis in the Pacific nation's capital.
The endorsement of the Solid Waste Management Plan for Majuro 2019-2028 was announced Thursday by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).
The plan was developed by the Majuro Atoll Waste Company (MWAC) in collaboration with experts from the Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for the Promotion of Regional Initiatives on Solid Waste Management Strategy in Pacific Island Countries (J-PRISM II).
According to Minister Jiba Kabua, board chairman of the government-run MWAC, around 38.5 tons of waste are collected in Majuro per day.
Solid waste management is a major undertaking and waste disposal is a challenging task for a small island. Majuro has an estimated population of 27,797 on a land area of 3.75 square miles.
"The visible waste mountain in Majuro has not only become an eyesore, but a major hazard. This plan will assist the MAWC in establishing a technically sound and financially sustainable solid waste management system."
The plan includes proper final disposal, as the current public disposal site has been used as a landfill site for over 10 years. The waste is piled up so high that it is now said to be the highest point in the country.
It is estimated that Majuro generates about 7.2 tons of residential waste per day and 13.2 tons of commercial waste per day. The main dumpsite at Jable–Batkan has exceeded its design capacity.
In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the temporary closure of the dumpsite, but it was reopened because there were no alternatives available.
SPREP's Waste Management and Pollution Control Program has been assisting Marshall Islands to finalize the national waste management plan in line with the plan.
Another issue targeted under the 10-year plan is waste reduction and recycling, which is essential to reducing waste going into the final disposal site, thereby prolonging the life of the disposal site and reducing long-term costs.
Additional issues targeted under the plan also include the improvement of collection services, and the careful consideration on the applicability of new technologies.
"It was recognized that while substantial efforts had been made by various organizations in RMI to address the issue of solid waste, several challenges remain, and that there is a need for strategic efforts to be re-directed to focus on the remaining critical issues as well as emerging ones that are currently being faced by the Waste sector in Majuro," SPREP said in a press release.
An action plan is designed to be implemented for the first half of the 10-year period, from 2019 to 2023, after which a review will be conducted to update the plan’s relevance to current needs, as well as to plan the next activities for the remaining period of the plan.
MAWC provides weekly collection services to around 2,500 households, and 82 commercial customers located in the area between the airport and Rita.
However, due to the lack of available collection services, many households create backyard pits for disposal of waste, which pose environmental and public health hazards.