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Pacific islands champion sustainable financing for waste management

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Canberra-- The island nations of the Pacific Ocean are suffering from a build-up of hazardous wastes and toxic chemicals – a serious problem when coupled with limited space and insufficient infrastructure to deal with such harmful materials safely.

To support islanders’ know-how on dealing with harmful waste, delegates from 14 Pacific island countries, as well as Timor-Leste and Trinidad and Tobago are joining the "Sustainable Financing for Waste Management Study Tour," which will provide them with a comprehensive "hands-on" experience and understanding of sustainable financing for waste management systems in operation in Australia.

The participants will seek to gather the necessary knowledge from the tour to apply similar processes and techniques when designing or expanding waste management systems in their own countries.

The interactive study tour to Australia from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9 is a partnership between the GEF ISLANDS project in the Pacific, implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the EU-funded Pacific Waste Management (PacWastePlus) Program.

SPREP Director General Sefanaia Nawadra reaffirmed the organization's commitment to continue providing meaningful assistance to member countries, supporting the implementation of the Cleaner Pacific 2025 Strategy.

“Our members who attended the 30th SPREP Meeting of Officials considered the development of sustainable financing mechanisms to assist with funding the sound management of wastes as an excellent opportunity for countries and territories to enhance their knowledge to design sustainable waste solutions, especially given the current level of donor support on waste management," Nawadra said.

Nawadra added that several SPREP donor-funded projects are now supporting the Cleaner Pacific 2025 Strategy, which includes the adoption of sustainable financing mechanisms managed by SPREP’s Waste Management and Pollution Control program.


“Sustainable financing for waste management initiatives is being supported by the PacWastePlus program, the GEF ISLANDS program and the Commitment to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) project, funded by l’Agence Française de Developpement (AFD),” said Nawadra.

“I take this opportunity to wish the delegates the very best and encourage them to gain as much knowledge as they can, but, more importantly, to share that with their country colleagues back home to assist in the design of sustainable waste management systems,” added Nawadra.

The study tour is taking place in Australia because Australia has long experience in container deposit/return schemes. The first such scheme was implemented in South Australia in 1977, one of the first continuously operating systems in the world.

Container deposit schemes have been in operation in the northern territory since 2012, New South Wales since2017, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland in 2018, and Western Australia in 2020. Schemes in the remaining states are due to commence in Tasmania in 2022 and Victoria in 2023.

New Zealand is currently in the design and consultation phase of implementing a similar scheme.

Study tour delegates will be meeting with jurisdictional representatives from across Australia and New Zealand, community enterprises, private industry, and centres of excellence - and will be getting up-close to technologies and infrastructure that supports resource recovery and circular economy initiatives with a number of site visits.


The study tour will include attendance at the WMRR Circular Economy Conference in Canberra, and case study visits to organics, e-waste and other community processing centres.

At the end of the study tour, each country will have the capacity to be the “Champion” for driving their sustainable financing system by engaging in deep-dive workshops, site tours and completing a workbook-based exercise working through options for system design in their own country.

“Sharing knowledge on the sustainable management of toxic waste is at the heart of the ISLANDS Programme,” said Melanie Ashton, ISLANDS program coordinator.

“The knowledge is out there on the best way to manage the relentless build-up of harmful materials like used oil, e-waste, end of life vehicles, mercury and a whole range of dangerous agricultural and industrial chemicals and persistent organic pollutants. The secret is to share the knowledge and learn from one another’s experiences and expertise in this field.”

Country delegates nominated to attend the study tour expressed appreciation for the PacWastePlus program and ISLANDS team for organising and enabling their participation in this learning opportunity especially at a time when many Pacific Island countries are looking at designing sustainable waste management systems

“Here in Solomon Islands, we do not have any formal sustainable financing system in place but are currently exploring the best way to establish a system that fits into our national context,” said Debra Kereseka from the Solomon Islands. “We have completed an Advance Recovery Deposit Fees Feasibility Study with PacWastePlus Project support and are working towards introducing a system in the country”

Kereseka added that she looked forward to not only learning from the study tour itself but also hearing the experiences of those who have already introduced and implemented sustainable financing systems in their countries and understanding the challenges related to the planning, design and implementation stages of the system as well as ways to address these challenges.

“In Tonga we are currently implementing the Plastic Levy Regulation 2013, which allows the Waste Authority Ltd to collect revenue at the border on empty PET bottles and plastic food containers. However, there is a need to review the regulation to include PET bottles with liquid and other single use plastics as they are becoming more common and a bit more challenging to deal with,” said Mafile'o Masi from Tonga.

She added that she wants to engage in the tour through sharing of ideas and lesson learned from other Pacific island countries that are successfully implementing sustainable financing mechanisms for waste management such as extended producer responsibility, container deposit legislation and advance recovery fee and deposit.

“Our PacWastePlus project focuses on the design of end-of-life tire repurposing system,” said Calvin Ikesiil from Palau. “The plan is to upgrade our tire shredder to shred tires into smaller pieces and use them as construction materials or cover material for landfill disposal area.”

Ikesil added that Palau has been implementing a CDL program since 2011, but it is currently limited to beverage containers but hoped to expand the system to include non-beverage containers and this study tour is an opportunity to gain knowledge and learn new ideas on how to improve their current systems.

“We here in Nauru are currently considering establishing a recycling system that is acceptable to our community and also meets the standards of recyclers, while also not forgetting an important part, which is to adopt a system that can be sustainably financed,” said Bryant Star from Nauru.

He added that he was looking forward to gaining knowledge on this study tour on which mechanisms such as obligations, regulations, partnerships and policies are being utilised to gain leverage with key stakeholders in supporting a recycling/recovery system and how users can make use of such a system and localise and implement learnings from the study tour for Nauru’s needs.

The 22 participants in this study tour join from Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The Pacific – European Union (EU) Waste Management Programme, PacWastePlus, is a 72-month programme funded by the EU and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to improve regional management of waste and pollution sustainably and cost-effectively. Priority waste streams include hazardous wastes (specifically asbestos, E-waste and healthcare waste), solid wastes (specifically recyclables, organic waste, disaster waste and bulky waste) and related aspects of wastewater.

Countries participating in the PacWastePlus program are Cook Islands, Timor-Leste, FSM, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Global Environment Facility Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing States (ISLANDS) Programme supports 33 small islands developing states (SIDS) across the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific Oceans to safely and sustainably manage chemical and hazardous waste.

A global project connects and facilitates SIDS learning across and between project regions including through dedicated communities of practice on the Green Forum.

ISLANDS, SPREP, and PacWastePlus are using a new interactive platform for online community engagement, the Green Forum. This is a place for professionals and enthusiasts to discuss and share insights and best practices on the green transition. The Green Forum hosts Communities of Practice – including The Sustainable Financing for Waste Management in the Pacific.

The objective of this Communities of Practice is to provide a space for decision makers and practitioners to share resources, common challenges and lessons learned on the design, implementation, and operation of their sustainable financing scheme. This group will also serve as the digital space for the Sustainable Financing Study Tour in Australia – coorganized by PacWastePlus and ISLANDS. (SPREP)

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