Tired of it: Palau seeking solutions to mounting problems with waste tires
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
An audit of Palau’s waste stream in 2019 identified 13,739 cubic meters of end-of-life tires stockpiled in the country, which included 100 meters of shredded tires, according to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).
"End-of-life tires are expensive to send overseas for environmentally sound management and there are no in-country reuse options in Palau, resulting in illegal dumping and stockpiles in the country," SPREP said.
The problem with waste tires is compounding Palau's challenge with waste management.
According to National Waste Management Strategy, Palau's 2017-2026 masterplan, the proximity of Palau to Asia and other productive yet consumerist societies has attributed to the country’s significant change in the nature of wastes and consumption pattern in the last 10 years.
"The country is now confronted with substantial waste management issues that need to be addressed in the immediate to short-term period," the report said.
"This is further exacerbated by constraints such as limited land space, resources, institutional and human capacity, as well as vulnerability to climate change, among others."
Lask week, SPREP announced that it has partnered with the Bureau of Public Works' Environmental Quality Protection Board for an innovative solution to address illegal dumping and stockpiles of old tires in Palau.
The project involves exploring ways to repurpose end-of-life tires.
The project is supported by the European Union funded PacWastePlus program which will assist stakeholders in Palau to introduce an effective and sustainable management programme for bulky waste, specifically for waste tires.
For the past year, despite the global challenges caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, dedicated staff from respective agencies from Palau have been working with the PacWastePlus program team on developing a suitable country project to be approved by the program donor, the European Union. On July 21, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Brian Melairei, director of the Solid Waste Management Division of the Bureau of Public Works, Michael Blesam, acting chief executive officer of EQPB, and the director-general of SPREP, Kosi Latu, to enable the end-of-life tires project implementation to commence formally in Palau. “The PacWastePlus program will assist the project to establish a legal framework that introduces a financially sustainable model of managing EOLT and establish a national standard that ensures the use of quality and long-lasting tyres in the country,” Latu said. The SPREP director general said the agreement provides a framework of co-operation, project actions and responsibilities between SPREP and both Ministries to work in partnership and implement the waste tires management project through the PacWastePlus program. “We will utilize the PacWastePlus program investment to establish a sustainable recovery program in Palau to process end-of-life tires (EOLT) given the high cost of exporting waste tires for environmental sound management," Blesam said.
The project team in Palau have expressed appreciation to EU, SPREP and the PacWastePlus Program Management Unit for the assistance to develop a meaningful project and the continued guidance being provided as the project moves into the implementation stage. “We appreciate the assistance that has been provided by PacWastePlus to develop the end-of-life tires project and are excited to commence work on the implementation of project activities in Palau,” said the country focal point for the project, Calvin Ikesiil, chief of the Division of Solid Waste Management, Bureau of Public Works. The project will pilot a chosen recommendation from research undertaken by the PacWastePlus program in April 2021.
SPREP said the project was designed to not only achieve the objective of Palau’s National Solid Waste Management Strategy (2017 – 2021) but also ensure alignment to the country’s National Development Goals and the pathway toward sustainable production and consumption.
The project will facilitate various awareness and engagement campaigns to inform and engage tyre importers/retailers and communities on Palau’s waste tires management system. “With the implementation of this, PacWastePlus supported, project we are working toward having an effective long term and self-funding solution for the collection and repurposing of end-of-life tires to address illegal dumping and accumulated stockpiles in Palau,” Melairei said.
PacWastePlus will collate the learnings from the Palau project to assist other Pacific island countries to implement a similar project.