End of Life Vehicles
Waste Management and Pollution Control

The recycling of vehicles and white goods in the Pacific islands is the focus of a study which is currently taking place, potentially resulting in a Pacific regional recycling plant.  This assessment will gauge the feasibility of recycling end-of-life (ELV) vehicles and white goods, also commonly known as bulky wastes.

The study is conducted as part of the Global Environment Facility-funded ISLANDS Pacific project, implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). 

The study is a unique public-private partnership in waste management between 14 Pacific Island countries, SPREP – an intergovernmental organisation, and Swire Shipping – one of the largest shipping companies in the world.

Swire Shipping is a strong waste management partner for the Pacific, currently spearheading the Moana Taka partnership which SPREP signed in 2018 to remove wastes that would otherwise be dumped in the region. 

Under the Partnership, Swire Shipping loads eligible wastes in its containers on a backloading arrangement and ships them for recycling or disposal in countries that are capable of taking the wastes under the Basel and Waigani Conventions on the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. 

car yard
ELV cars stockpile in Yap, FSM. 

The study which is currently underway, will evaluate options for dismantling and processing of ELVs and white goods in the Pacific region, and exporting them to recycling markets, while disposing of hazardous wastes and chemical containing components such as dashboards, steering wheels and seats, in an environmentally sound manner. It also aims to produce a report that will guide investment decisions by Swire Shipping on the possible construction of a regional recycling plant for ELVs and white goods

At present, there are no scrapping schemes for the systematic disposal of ELVs and white goods in Pacific island countries. Many ELVs are abandoned along roadsides and open spaces, or stockpiled in obscure locations and backyards. 

To address this problem, some countries have imposed age restrictions on imported second-hand vehicles while others have extended existing advanced recovery schemes to include ELVs and white goods. However, these measures on their own are not sufficient to fully address the issue, as these imported goods still end up as bulky wastes upon the end of their lifespan, and need to be managed by the importing country. 

“The recycling facility, if approved for construction and once fully operational, will solve the big problem we have in the Pacific of end-of-life vehicles and white goods polluting our environment,” said Mr Joshua Sam, Hazardous Waste Management Adviser at SPREP and contract manager of the consultancy undertaking the scoping study. 

“At the same time, the facility will enable the recycling of these items which reduces the demand on virgin resources such as iron ore and other earth metals that are extracted to manufacture cars and white goods. This is what circular economy is all about and the establishment of a regional recycling facility for ELVs and white goods will put the Pacific at the forefront of closing one of the biggest material loops in the global economy.”

Mr Sam further added that in addition to preventing the pollution of the Pacific environment and recovering resources, Pacific island countries also stand to benefit from revenues that will be generated by recycling systems for ELVs and white goods. 

“Given the small economies of the region and the current impacts of COVID-19, any additional revenue is welcome,” he said. 

The study is being undertaken by Tonkin + Taylor International (T+TI) in Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

For more information on the scoping study or the GEF ISLANDS project, please contact Mr Joshua Sam at [email protected]