Brighter Future on the Horizon for Plastic Waste Management in Samoa
November 28, 2022
Apia, Samoa – A brighter future for plastic waste management in Samoa is on the horizon. This is the result of a new public-private partnership formed in 2021 between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), and the Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) Global, a Costa Rica-based company which seeks to address the growing problem of plastic pollution.
“Our reliance on imported goods continues to threaten the ecosystems upon which Samoa depends. Identifying and developing innovative solutions, such as the Recover-Enrich-Appreciate-Prosper (REAP) Education and The Bag That Builds (TBTB) Action programmes, to both manage waste sustainably and change consumption patterns, are therefore critical,” said Vainalepa Toiata Uili, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, MNRE.
Made possible with the financial support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office through the British High Commission in Apia, the alliance brings an end-to-end circular solution for plastic waste in Samoa through education and the collection, upcycling, and repurposing of plastic waste into building products, leveraging CRDC Global’s proprietary technology to produce RESIN8™ out of hard-to-recycle plastic waste. This is part of UNDP’s Circular Economy for the Recovery of Waste Programme, known simply as the CERO Waste Project, which has propelled Samoa to the forefront of innovation for zero plastic waste islands not just in the Pacific, but globally.
“Plastics decompose only slowly, if at all. Yet it need not be this way. Many plastics can be recycled. One other reason why we need to create a circular economy, where we recycle everything that we use, is climate change. Single-use plastics will account for 19% of the world’s carbon budget by 2040. The Pacific Islands Forum has said that climate change is the biggest single security risk to its members. Recycling can help reduce the carbon we put into the atmosphere, causing global warming,” said David Ward, British High Commissioner to Samoa.
The Recover-Enrich-Appreciate-Prosper (REAP) Education Programme is the first-of-a-kind fun and interactive activity-based programme, combining academic critical thinking skills on resource circularity with practical action through The Bag That Builds (TBTB) programme. Its first phase will focus on educating children and youth from more than 30 schools within the Apia urban area, building environmental awareness, knowledge and understanding of the importance of resource circularity. Through a plastic recovery programme called ‘The Bag That Builds’, students will actively lead the segregation of household plastic waste to prevent landfilling and leakage into the environment.
l-r Setoa Apo, MNRE; HE David Ward, British High Commissioner to Samoa; HE Jorn Sorensen, UNDP Resident Representative & Vainalepa Toiata Uili, ACEO MNRE
Participants in a plastic coastal clean-up along the seawall at the Malaefatu Recreational Reserve, Sogi
Day 1 of the event engaged participants in the actioning of TBTB, with youth activists and representatives from the Government of Samoa, civil society and private sector joining forces in a plastics coastal clean-up along the seawall at the Malaefatu Recreational Reserve, Sogi. A mini audit, conducted by MNRE, was done after. It showed a staggering 61.76kg of waste collected in less than an hour. Eighty eight percent of items collected were plastic, but even more shocking was the number of post-consumer PET plastic bottles found, accounting for 54% of the total plastic waste stream sampled.
“The Bag That Builds programme, inaugurated today and actioned for the first time in the context of an island country, inspires joint action by us all. Different to other clean-ups, all plastic collected has not ended in landfill. Instead, it is being diverted to a circular system for plastic recovery that can accept all types of plastic waste in its conversion to RESIN8, a thermoplastic aggregate for concrete and asphalt applications, another first for Small Island Developing States globally,” said Verena Linneweber, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP.
Day 2 marked the official handover of the REAP Education Kit to MNRE, containing the materials for the 8-session programme that will take students on a critical thinking journey to evaluate our past, present, and future relationship with our Planet Earth. Each REAP Unit develops speaking and listening, and personal and social skills whilst examining a key concept through four sessions:
- Discuss – introducing the key concept;
- Deduce – encouraging close evaluation of the key concept;
- Delve – analyzing deeper the key concept; and
- Do – putting the thinking into practice.
“Knowledge is power, and education plays a fundamental function in instilling and applying circular literacy from a young age where disruptive innovations alone cannot solve the problem, and mindset shifts are the pre-requisite for any transformation. In this regard, I foresee REAP will equip children and youth to become effective role models of eco-responsible stewardship,” said Jorn Sorensen, Resident Representative, UNDP.
“We are extremely proud to be launching the REAP Education and TBTB programmes in Samoa. This unique collaboration will be able to make a lasting change for generations to come, and set the course for a cleaner, climate-resilient, and prosperous future. I believe Samoa will become a beacon of hope and inspiration for countries around the world,” said Donald Thomson, Founder and Chairman, CRDC Global.
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