Circular economy
November 25, 2021
Waste Management and Pollution Control

23 November 2021, APIA:  The first Clean Pacific Roundtable session on Circular Economy attracted speakers from the European Union, Ellen McArthur Foundation, ANZPAC, MRA Consulting, and the University of Wollongong.

Circular Economy requires changing the paradigm for waste management from the current linear model of ‘Import, Consume, Dispose’ to one of resource utilisation.  

“The existing model treats our resources as infinite and assumes the environment can absorb our waste indefinitely.  It is unsustainable in the long run.  Landfill and end of life disposal needs to be phased out to protect our people and environment” said Mr. Jocelyn Blériot from the Ellen McArthur Foundation. 

A Circular Economy minimises extraction, keeps materials in the economy for as long as possible and ensures they are able to be reused, repurposed or recycled at the end of their first life.  

Participants at the Roundtable were engaged in the topic of how Circular Economy is already working in the Pacific, demonstrated by Mr Shalend Singh, who operates a successful composting programme using organic “waste” from the Lautoka market in Fiji and turning it into compost for sale to the community at an affordable price. 

Mr Jack Smith, who assisted the 2019 Samoa Pacific  Games and 2017 Vanuatu Mini Games to be environmentally friendly and single-use plastic free, and Mr Taufia Patolo, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture in Tuvalu, who discussed two new pieces of legislation Tuvalu has implemented that will provide an enabling environment for Circular Economy; the Prohibition on the Importation of Single Use Plastic and the Levy Deposit Regulation (Advance Recovery Fee and Deposit).

Key discussions noted as "pathway" for the Pacific included developing a legislative environment that enables and incentivises a circular economy, and disincentivises landfill and end of life products, developing an environment that recognises the core role of industry and institutions to partner with governments to bring their skills, technology. 

The need for financing to bear and deliver the quality outcomes sought, and ensuring our communities are engaged and understand that their consumer choices impact on the Pacific way of life were part of the engaged discussions.

Outgoing and incoming SPREP Directors General, Mr Kosi Latu and Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, said Pacific success is turning discussion into action, and prioritising legislative tools such as the Container Deposit or Advance Recovery Fee and Deposit systems to enable long-term change towards a more sustainable future.  

“SPREP stands ready to support the actions of all countries to create the Pacific Circular economy, as a successful circular economy, will not only reduce pollution, and generate the necessary resources to manage the waste created, but will create new jobs, and be an integral part of the Pacific’s commitment to reducing our climate footprint, and remaining below the global 1.5-degree threshold,” said Mr Latu.

The Director for Global Sustainable Development at the European Union, Ms Astrid Schomaker, described the issue with the current model and the progress towards the solutions of Circular Economy as “Challenges are global, as are the solutions”. 

The European Union Circular Economy Action Plan has an objective to make products sustainable, starting from product design.  We need to work together to promote schemes to prevent single use products and assist to reuse resources.  The EU is currently assisting the governments of the Pacific through the financing of the Pacific-EU Waste Management Programme, PacWastePlus. 

Mr. Mike Ritchie from the MRA Consulting Group echoed sentiments from presenters and set the challenge for the region over the next 5 years.

“Levy imported goods that are not recyclable, impose a landfill levy and dedicate revenue to new recycling infrastructure and build local recycling collection infrastructures,” said Mr Ritchie.  

He encouraged the need to develop Extended Producer Responsibility (Advance Recovery Fee and Deposit) schemes to fund collection, ban organics to landfill and impose government purchasing policies that favour recycled products.  

Mr. Ritchie noted that if Pacific Island countries could achieve that in the next 5 years, they would be at the front of the pack globally. 
“It is not difficult, all it requires is political commitment”, he commented during the interactive session.

SPREP will continue to assist members progress towards a Circular Economy through the implementation of the Cleaner Pacific 2025 Regional Waste Strategy and by capitalising on current donor-funded projects such as the PacWastePlus Programme, GEF ISLANDS, SWAP and JPRISM II.

For more information, please contact Mr. Anthony Talouli [email protected]

The Third Clean Pacific Roundtable is held virtually from 16 – 25 November.  It is a partnership event supported by New Caledonia, Acotred Pacific, Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), Australian Aid (AUS Aid), European Union (EU), Fonds Pacifique, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UN Environment Program, Province SUD and Province NORD.
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