Waste segregation by students
Waste Management and Pollution Control

18 March 2024. As Global Recycling Day 2024 is celebrated across the world under the theme “#RecyclingHeroes”, students in Samoa, partners, and staff of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) were reminded of the simple steps one can take to contribute to an environmentally stable planet and greener future for all. 

The Waste Management and Pollution Control Programme (WMPC) of SPREP, Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association (SWRMA) and Year 6 students from Ah Mu Academy, Samoa, came together on 18 March at the SPREP Campus to celebrate Global Recycling Day and discuss the importance of waste management and simple ways we can all contribute to national and global recycling efforts. 

“Waste Management is essential to assist with the proper management of waste, to ensure a reduced effect of waste on the environment and our wellbeing. Increasing waste generation is a global issue that needs to be addressed at the earliest opportunity”, said Ms Susana Telakau, SPREP Solid Waste Management Adviser, who presented on solid waste and its impacts. 

“This is why models like the 5R’s are so important, we have to ensure we are utilising our resources most effectively and at the earliest opportunity before we move down the Waste Hierarchy to waste ending up in landfills and causing harm to the environment”. 

In Samoa, waste management is a growing issue, with limited access to land, technical expertise and resources for recycling facilities. SWRMA plays a key role in the waste management space with its overall vision of “Improving Waste Recycling and Commercial Waste Management for a Cleaner 

SWRMA representative, Ms Fina Sio shared on their initiatives to tackle waste management and promote recycling in Samoa. “At SWRMA, we can recycle electronic waste, scrap metal, glass, plastic bottles, aluminium cans and plastic bottles. Each with its own process that includes various steps varying from sorting, washing, dismantling, and crushing. At the end of each process, we ensure that the waste is either repurposed or shipped off island where the materials can be re-used for something else. We have a glass collection operation that is crushed into finer material and repurposed into bricks”, she said. 

Sand is the most used and fast depleting minerals across the globe; therefore, the repurposing of glass products also curbs and slows down the use of another valuable natural resource. 

SWRMA also have collection cages available at supermarkets for the collection of recyclable plastic bottles and aluminium cans. “The cages are not just for collection but educating the general public on the importance of sorting and taking initiative to separate their wastes. You also do not need to wait until you see these cages, sorting and recycling can be done at home. You can begin by using cardboard boxes, and separating plastic, metal and organic waste for disposal”, Ms Sio shared. 

In the lead up to Global Recycling Day, WMPC SPREP and the Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries Phase 3 (J-PRISM 3) teamed up to carry out a waste audit on the SPREP Vailima, Samoa campus from 4 -8 March 2024. The goal of the audit was to find out the amount of waste generated and composition for the SPREP campus and ways to improve waste management practices, identify organisational improvements and take action on how SPREP staff view waste as a resource. 

Mr Mimura Satoru, J-PRISM Chief Advisor presented the results of the audit. The total weight of waste collected across the period of the audited amounted to 72.8kg with approximately 14.56kg of waste produced per day. Paper accounted for 61% of  the waste recorded , with organic waste coming second at 19%. 

From the waste audit, staff were encouraged to take action through reduction of printing on campus, reusing containers, recycling PET and aluminium and returning organic waste to soil.

Mr Satoru highlighted the importance of the audit and its outcomes, “the audit highlights the areas where we must reaffirm our commitments to environmental leadership. They are small but important steps to be taken, when it comes to waste management, we must take action and line them up with our words”.

The Global Recycling Day celebration ended with a hands-on training of conducting a waste audit and demonstration for students, SPREP staff and partners on sorting and segregation of different waste types, putting into practice their earlier discussions. 

Global Recycling Day is celebrated annually on 18 March and was created in 2018 to help recognise, and celebrate, the importance recycling plays in preserving our precious primary resources and securing the future of our planet. It is a day for the world to come together and put the planet first.