Waste management continues to be a serious environmental, economic and health concern for the Pacific, left unaddressed, threatens the sustainable development of island countries. The increasing population and changing lifestyle of Pacific communities account for growing diverse waste and are exacerbated by expanding economic activity and limited land availability.
To address poor waste management, SPREP, with the support of PRIF partners, in 2017, worked on a concept of a regional resource circulation and recycling network. The initiative identified and quantified the opportunities to improve the resource recovery of 15 common commodities present in the solid waste stream in 15 Pacific island countries. 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 results were compiled and published as Pacific Island Country and Territory Profiles in the solid waste and recycling sector. The published series of individual country files can be downloaded here. The key study finding is that material flows are too small to be processed feasibly in each country and recommends processing on a regional scale in the Pacific.
Between 2019 and 2021, PRIF, SPREP, and other agencies used the PRIF standard Waste Audit Methodology to conduct waste audits in 14 Pacific countries and have continued meetings to ensure synergies are maintained, particularly during COVID-19. Currently, three waste audits have been completed (Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Palau). Other waste audits are expected to be completed soon.
The Pacific regional recycling network and pre-feasibility assessment are expected to be extensive work. They will use the 14 country waste audits results to determine total volumes and types of recyclables materials, investment waste management, and recycling facilities in each Pacific country.
PRIF will commence work soon to consider options for a Pacific regional recycling network in the ensuing months and undertake a pre-feasibility assessment of the most favourable option. The recycling network is expected to include local processing centre/s, trans-shipment and recycling facilities and cater for all or some recycling materials in one or more locations in the Pacific region. This work will include all PRIF member countries. The work will include undertaking a demand analysis for recycled wastes and potential markets and identifying possible solutions. Thereafter the prefeasibility assessment will be undertaken for the most favourable option for a regional recycling facility based on technical, environmental, social, financial, and economic assessments.
This is a significant investment by PRIF partners and SPREP to work together and identify a potential solution to waste management challenges in the Pacific. PRIF and the PacWaste team will continue to report on the progress of this work over the coming months.