Communities participating in the beach clean-ups
Waste Management and Pollution Control

4 April 2024, Port Vila - Vanuatu continues to show leadership in waste management through its national efforts to safeguard the environment and promote sustainability through local initiatives. 

In March 2024, the Vanuatu Ministry of Climate Change and Adaptation through its Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) supported by the Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) Project, conducted beach clean-ups and launched the Used Oil Pilot Project in Vanuatu. 

Funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the SWAP project aims to improve sanitation, environmental, social, and economic conditions in Pacific Island and Territories through proper waste management and focuses on three waste streams; disaster waste, marine litter and used oil. 

The beach clean ups in Efate tackled marine litter at three key locations, Ifira Point Beach, Ifira Island Pauni Beach and Etmat Bay. Community members from these areas together with DEPC and SWAP collected 4,119l items accounting for 47 kilogrammes of waste.

Beach clean-up

The beach clean-ups are a follow -up activity for the SWAP Project in Vanuatu. In 2022, SWAP in collaboration with Sustainable Coastlines delivered hands-on training focused not on just cleaning up marine litter, but also how to document and analyse the waste collected.
These skills were put into practice at this year’s activity where a positive trend was observed, compared to last year’s campaign the analysis of the beach clean-ups showed less overall waste collected.

SPREP SWAP Coordinator, Ms Julie Pillet, put the results of the clean up in perspective. She said, ”The numbers reflect less litter found in the target areas. However the percentage of these items are mainly plastics, which shows a concerning increase in plastic fragment pieces and signals the urgent need to address plastic pollution at its source.”

Marine litter

Plastic fragments continue to pose a significant environmental challenge, emphasising the importance of community engagement and participation in hands on training.

Under its Used Oil waste stream priority, the SWAP Project and DEPC officially launched the Used Oil Pilot Project which sets up an appropriate and central storage facility for used oil Vanuatu. 

The pilot project follows the development of the Vanuatu Waste Oil Management Plan, where it estimated that 280,000 – 380,000 litres of oil are being generated annually in Vanuatu. 

Used oil is currently utilised for a range of purposes in Vanuatu, including pest control, weed abatement and vegetation control, timber painting and staining, a marker on playing field and various other usages that result in the oil reaching the environment as a contaminant. 

Inappropriate disposal of used oil in landfills and open-air burning calls for concern as these practices further contaminate land and water sources and cause negative impacts on humans, plants, animals, and organisms. 

“We are excited for this project, the collected oil will be re-processed to produce an alternative source of fuel. This means we not only dispose of used oil in a more environmentally sound manner, but we also minimise the use of diesel fuel across the nation”, said Ms Roselyn Bue, DEPC Senior Chemical and Ozone Officer. 

Construction of the central facility is now underway and on completion will store used oil collected from all major oil generators and users in Port Vila. The used oil collected at the facility will be reprocessed into a recycled energy that can be used by local businesses as an alternative fuel to process their machinery. This groundbreaking activity will pave the way for sustainable, affordable, and eco-friendly energy alternatives for Vanuatu.  

Ms Pillet also commended the commitment of Vanuatu to take the lead on waste management, “we applaud and thank Vanuatu DEPC and local communities for their support of the SWAP Project in preserving Vanuatu’s pristine shores and oceans and taking the lead in sustainability through eco-friendly energy sources”.

Results from the beach cleans ups can be found HERE

About SWAP

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) and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) .

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]