Pacific Resource Infrastructure Facility (PRIF)

Established in 2008 to provide technical assistance, research and knowledge products on key infrastructure issues to Pacific island countries

and as a coordination facility for the principal development partners in the region.

Pacific Region Solid Waste Management and Recycling - Pacific Country and Territory Profiles

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This compendium of Pacific Country and Territory Profiles in the solid waste and recycling sector is published as a key element of a research study commissioned by PRIF in 2017 – the ‘Regional Resource Circulation and Recycling Network’ - that seeks to identify and quantify the opportunity to improve the resource recovery of fifteen common commodities1 present in the solid waste stream in fifteen Pacific island countries and territories2 (PICs).

The increasing presence of plastic marine debris in the South Pacific Ocean is focusing attention on strengthening recycling policies and systems in the region. Pacific island countries face significant challenges in providing sustainable management systems for an increasing and diversifying range of waste materials, driven mainly by changing urbanisation patterns, globalised markets, wealth redistribution and the resultant changing lifestyles. Unique challenges associated with shipping commodities of low value over long distances to recycling markets, however, reduce the economic viability to do so. Most countries across the world are facing similar barriers to achievingcost-effective and efficient waste and recycling systems. However, these challenges are magnified for the Pacific island countries as a result of their unique circumstances, including: geographical isolation; limited availability of environmentally suitable land for the construction of waste management infrastructure; high costs of servicing small and largely dispersed populations; an inability to achieve critical mass due to a relatively small consumer base; relative financial disadvantage where eight of the 15 countries are in the lower to middle gross national income bracket. Additionally, many PICs are heavily reliant on imported goods, international development assistance and are often remote from international recycling markets. These countries are also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and severe weather events which can generate shock loads to normal waste levels.

The Country and Territory Profiles were prepared detailing country-specific information which was used to inform other elements of the research. The first phase of the study conducted a material flow analysis of imports and exports, estimated the available materials for recovery and quantified the expected increase in commodities based on various policy interventions. The study also identified waste disposal infrastructure and service provision, reviewed current institutional frameworks, identified port infrastructure and shipping logistics and estimated plastic marine debris in the Pacific nations. The study examined further the potential to establish a regional network to improve the recovery, and where feasible, recycling of solid waste, in a manner that meets economic, social and environmental objectives.

The research was conducted by Anne Prince and Debra Mackeen, following desktop data analysis, extensive consultations and visits to Fiji, Palau, Samoa and American Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The project is managed by Jack Whelan, Secretariat Manager, PRIF Coordination Office, guided by a technical implementation committee including specialists from PRIF member agencies and in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

1 PET (plastic) beverage containers; Glass bottles; Steel cans; Aluminium cans; Paper and cardboard; Electronic ‘E-waste’; White goods; Used oil; Used lead-acid batteries; Lithium batteries; Scrap steel, ferrous and non-ferrous metals; Tyres; End-of-life vehicles; End-of-life renewable energy equipment, for example, solar panels and inverters; plastic shopping bags.

2 Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.