May 22, 2023
Waste Management and Pollution Control

19 May 2023, Suva Fiji - The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Agence française de développement (AFD)-funded ‘Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific’ (SWAP) is preparing the groundwork in Fiji for the roll out of a project designed to help communities understand how marine litter is generated.

The Marine Litter Pilot Project (MLPP) will be delivered by SWAP in collaboration with the Pacific Ocean Litter Youth Project (POLYP) led by the University of the South Pacific in Suva.

“As part of the MLPP, beach clean-ups throughout Fiji including litter audits will be conducted four times a year at the same chosen location to see if there is also a correlation between waste collected and weather trends,” explained Ms Julie Pillet, Technical Coordinator of the SWAP project at SPREP.

“In time, we will be able to make solid conclusions and analysis of where the waste is coming from and implement ways to reduce and remove the waste from the marine areas. And because marine litter is a regional problem that affects us all, the collected data will be shared on an online platform, Litter Intelligence, which will be free to access.”

In the build up to the project, training activities were delivered by Sustainable Coastlines New Zealand at the University of the South Pacific in Suva Fiji, in May. The training activities involved local stakeholders and students from the USP. The training demonstrated how to safely carry out marine litter waste clean-up and how to conduct statistically reliable waste survey and audit at two different locations, USP Foreshore Beach, and Suva Point Beach.

On the first day of the training, 16 people were involved in the clean up at the USP Foreshore Beach. They collected over 267 items weighing 41 kilogrammes with plastic items accounting for 73% of the litter collected from the survey area. The detailed data is available here: https://litterintelligence.org/data/survey?id=2361.

Day two of the training involved in-country stakeholders. After a theory session, the volunteers carried out a clean-up at Suva Point Beach where the participants collected over 542 items weighing at 43.5 kilogrammes.  Plastic items accounted for 69% of the litter collected from the survey area. The detailed data is available here: https://litterintelligence.org/data/survey?id=2365.

A public lecture was also held at the USP to discuss Marine Litter with participants from different organisations such as the European Union or Surfers Club Association.  Ms Pillet provided an overview of the problem of marine litter around the world and its impact on the environment, health, economy and the Pacific countries. Sustainable Coastlines, represented by Ms Caitlyn Prince, highlighted the importance of data collection in mapping the trends of rubbish and how data collection can be used to change behaviour and to monitor impacts of a single-use plastic ban policy.

Mr Andrew Paris and Mr Suzanne Turaganiwai, of POLYP, presented the findings of their work during the past two years where they have been cleaning selected beach sites in Suva, mapped out rubbish trends and data collection, in order to draw conclusions and find solutions to the growing plastic problem in Suva town.

“The time spent in Fiji was an opportunity for the SWAP team to work with local Fiji stakeholders but also to progress the implementation of the regional project activity on marine litter management,” said Ms Pillet. “The Fiji pilot project is part of a regional activity, as similar pilots will be implemented in Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga in order to address this issue on a regional level.”

SWAP aims to improve sanitation, environmental, social and economic conditions in Pacific Island Countries and Territories through proper waste management”.  The seven SWAP Pacific islands are Fiji, French Polynesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. New Caledonia will also receive technical support through SWAP.

The Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) Project is funded by the Agence française de développement (AFD) https://www.afd.fr/ and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) https://www.sprep.org/ 

Agence Française de Développement (AFD) implements France’s policy on international development and solidarity. Through its financing of NGOs and the public sector, as well as its research and publications, AFD supports and accelerates transitions towards a fairer, more resilient world. It also provides training in sustainable development (at AFD Campus) and other awareness-raising activities in France.

With our partners, we are building shared solutions with and for the people of the Global South. Our teams are at work on more than 4,000 projects in the field, in the French Overseas Departments and Territories, in 115 countries and in regions in crisis. We strive to protect global public goods – promoting a stable climate, biodiversity and peace, as well as gender equality, education and healthcare. In this way, we contribute to the commitment of France and the French people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Towards a world in common. »

For further information please contact Ms Julie Pillet, SWAP Coordinator at [email protected]