It is estimated that in the Asia–Pacific region the cost of marine litter to marine industries is a minimum of €1.26 billion per year, including losses from tourism, entangled ship propellers and time lost for fishing (McIlgorm, A., et al., 2008). In the EU, it has been suggested that the cost for coastal and beach cleaning is about €630 million annually (Acoleyen, M., et al., 2013; Werner, S., et al., 2016).
Preventing pollution, especially plastics from entering the environment, requires focused efforts on behaviour change (for example, reducing reliance on single-use plastics), improvements in waste management and developing a more sustainable life cycle for wastes such plastics. The steps to improve poor systems of waste management or mismanagement of waste rely on quantifying the scale of the problem and the sources of plastics leakage and other wastes into the system. This quantification had not happened. Gaps in local capacity, as well as details of infrastructure and management systems needed to be quantified and linked to the leaked waste in order to adequately deal with the issues.
In 2018, CLiP contracted Asia Pacific Waste Consultants (APWC) to study waste management practices in Solomon Islands and offer best-practice solutions and training to staff who are engaged in the design and delivery of waste services. This project delivered data collection, analysis and recommended best practice activities that address gaps in the management of waste within Solomon Islands.
To ascertain a full picture of the waste management practices in Solomon Islands, the APWC team conducted a literature review in unison with extensive stakeholder consultation, sample and data collection which provided an analysis of the waste being generated and disposed of in Solomon Islands.
APWC undertook the in-country work from 25 November to 10 December 2018. Data collected allowed APWC to assess the amount of waste that required immediate management. Household interviews captured waste disposal methods and behaviours and socio-economic and waste behaviour data was cross referenced with the waste disposed.
- All work undertaken in two provinces: Guadalcanal and Malaita
- Household waste audit and interviews conducted in town, regional and rural communities
- Commercial waste audit conducted in town and regional communities
- Six communities in Guadalcanal and three in Malaita sampled
- 1,010 kilograms of rubbish sorted over two weeks
- Plastic bags account for 1.3 tonnes of household waste generated each day or an average of 4.4% of overall waste collected (6.6% in urban areas and 2.5% in rural areas)
- Estimated overall household disposal rate 1040 tonnes per day.
APWC identified 11 gaps in the provision of waste management services these include;
- Data collection and decision making
- Economic instruments
- Collection services
- Equipment and maintenance
- Contracts and tenders
- Landfill design and management
- Education and engagement
The findings from the waste data audit in addition to the feedback from the stakeholder consultation was used to suggest potential policy, legislative and infrastructure-based interventions to reduce waste from land-based sources from entering the oceans by employing better management at source and through state-based management systems. Some of the notable findings from consolidated data and feedback include;
- Waste generated between urban and rural areas differed
- There is large variability in the volumes of waste in urban areas, with existing systems capturing 30-70 per cent
- There is little to no space for burying waste
- All waste generated in rural areas was disposed of through burning, burying and dumping on land or nearby waterways
- Burning is the most common way of disposing of waste in areas that don’t have collection systems
- Nappies appeared to be a problem waste
- Nappies made up 27 per cent of overall waste disposed or 61 g/cap/day of the waste assessed through the audits
- Dumping nappies in waterways was common practice in Honiara
- In Lelepa 19% of the population throws nappies in to the ocean.
- Honiara are unreliable and do not cover the entire city, there is a significant change in disposal behavior in comparison to localities without a system in place.
- In Auki all bulky waste and recyclables are weighed down with rocks and dumped in the ocean
- In rural Guadalcanal people prefer to burn or bury their waste rather than dump it in the ocean
- Solomon Islands has a national waste management strategy; however, there are opportunities for the strategy can be strengthened through the addition of an outcomes-based action plan.
APWC found that given the desperate need for Solomon Islands provinces and Honiara to extend or find land for landfilling, separation of organics and composting seems the obvious first step to recoup some more space in the landfills that are nearing capacity.
From the waste data captured APWC were able to outline best practice actions that range from regulatory to behavioural, with thirteen recommendation areas that can reduce the volumes of waste entering marine environments in the future, whilst also improving the social and economic prospects of communities in Solomon Islands. The area for recommendation include;
- Institutional Arrangement and Support
- Waste management financing
- Capacity building
- Waste Management Plans
- Legislation – support development of waste bylaws
- Collection services
- Disposal services
- Litter control -installation of river booms at key rivers/lagoons
- Education and awareness
- Education materials – financing, supporting and developing how to guides in English and local languages
- Waste pickers – Improve working conditions
- Implementing agency for Cefas project – Continuity of waste projects through the same coordinating mechanism
Some examples of best practice actions include;
- Improve policy/plan structure and delineation of roles and financial mechanisms
- Improve management of organics
- Implement a container deposit legislation and support for a recycling association
- Better management of nappies
- Implement a plastic bag ban
- Implement an extension and improvement of the collection service in Honiara
- Establish financial mechanisms to fund collection and disposal activities in a disposable manner.