August 21, 2018
Waste Management and Pollution Control

21 August 2018, Suva, Fiji - As some would say, the “struggle is real” in Kiribati when it comes to putting a sustainable waste management system into action. Known as the “Kaoki Maange” System (return rubbish) there is a ‘money-back’ process in place for aluminium cans, PET bottles and used car batteries in Kiribati.

When you return used PET bottles or aluminium cans in Kiribati you receive four cents back for each item. When you submit lead-acid car batteries you receive four dollars back, these are then exported off-island to recyclers. 

Since it was introduced in 2003 over 550 tonnes of waste has been exported – over 200 tonnes of aluminium cans, over 90 tonnes of PET bottles and over 200 tonnes of scrap car batteries.

All of these activities have been undertaken in the face of very ‘real’ challenges that highlight life on an atoll island in the Pacific.

“One of our challenges is we have very limited land space on the main island, stockpiling the recycled items is a problem as our available land space is small.  We also have the problem of our sole recycling vehicle which has broken down,” said Ms Taouea Titaake-Reiher, Deputy Director of the Environment and Conservation Division in Kiribati. 

“The truck that transports the recyclable items from individual collection points to the main storage point is out of action.  As the items have to be transported from one end to the other, isolated areas, you do need a vehicle and right now we are trying to find alternative options of transportation.”

Some challenges are easily addressed such as the feedback from their recycling receivers in Hong Kong who have asked that that PET bottles be thoroughly cleaned before export.

“This, we can address with awareness and sharing of information,” said Ms. Titaake-Reiher.

Despite these challenges, Kiribati has sustained the “Kaoki Maange” System for over a decade.

What started as a pilot project in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, Kiribati Ministry of Commerce and Industry Cooperatives and implemented by the Foundation of the South Pacific in Kiribati, it has since seen the introduction of a Special Fund Act that was assented in 2005 with regulations endorsed in the same year.

When aluminium cans, PET bottles and lead-acid car batteries are imported they are charged the levy deposit which goes into the Special Fund.  When those items are returned some money is paid back to the consumer with the remaining paid to the waste recovery operator to meet the operational costs of recovering and recycling waste materials.

After over a decade of operation, there are steps underway to progress this to include a scrap vehicle recycling system.  This will address the stockpile of end-of-life vehicles that are collecting on Kiribati.

“The cabinet paper has been endorsed for this new system and we will start the work to make it a reality.  This will see the further removal of waste from our island atoll, which is a huge positive step for us in Kiribati.  We are pleased to be able to progress our “Kaoki Maange” system to include other key waste issue areas for Kiribati.”

Ms Titaake-Reiher presented on the Kiribati Te Kaoki Maange Recycling Project during the session on Progress on Existing Sustainable Mechanism in Waste Management during the second Clean Pacific Roundtable now underway in Suva, Fiji.

The Clean Pacific Roundtable 2018 held in Suva, Fiji from 20 – 22 August, 2018 followed by associated events on 23 and 24 August 2018, is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with the European Union (EU) and other partners.


This is the second CPRT, a Pacific regional event which is held every two years.  In 2018 it has brought together over 200 participants from across the Pacific island region to help seek solutions to Pacific waste problems in line with the Cleaner Pacific 2025, the Pacific waste and pollution management strategy for the Pacific.


For further information on the Clean Pacific Roundtable 2018 and the topics, please do visit