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.
Asia Pacific Waste Consultants (APWC) was engaged by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) to study waste management practices in Vanuatu and offer best-practice solutions and training to staff who are engaged in the design and delivery of waste services in the country (including provinces).
APWC delivered best practice solutions and training across two phases;
Phase 1 – Local solution case studies
A scoping visit to Vanuatu was undertaken by APWC in November 2018. As part of this visit, several remote communities were visited. These include:
- Lelepa and Ifira off the coast of Efate
- Tutuba and Mavea off the coast of Santo
A number of opportunities for improvement were identified during the process. In response, APWC developed a programme to share knowledge and ideas relevant to the Pacific context.
Phase 2 – Best practice show case, February 2019
An intensive three-day training and development opportunity was delivered on 4–6 February 2019 in Sydney. The objectives the showcase were to:
- Transfer knowledge and ideas to the Pacific context;
- Share learnings from similar problem waste streams that have been tackled;
- Provide forward insight into ideas that are currently being developed for delivery;
- Build a collaborative relationship between Australia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
There were various reasons for holding the best practice showcase in Sydney which include;
- Previous projects had undertaken study tours to other pacific islands and some of the selected stakeholders had already attended these trips.
- Deposit legislation, organics management and the formation of a Recycling association. To ensure participants recieved a well-rounded foundation on the principles of both deposit legislation and composting as well as establishing ongoing connections with the waste and recycling association in Australia.
The delegates were chosen based on the following criteria:
- Management of waste collection services in each country
- Management of landfill in each country
- Management of waste management policy in each country
Phase 1 – Local solution case studies
Best practice demonstrations were undertaken in all communities and islands visited to provide residents with ideas on source separation and waste disposal that could be undertaken locally without extensive external intervention. During our visit to various remote communities and islands (Lelepa (Efate), Ifira (Efate), Tutuba (Espiritu Santo) and Mavea (Espiritu Santo), the team was able to undertake waste management demonstrations of mini landfill and organics composting and moisture retention using green waste for the communities to improve their waste management, in some cases with a high degree of success. The details of the activities undertaken and resulting response and success is provided as case studies below.
At the village of Lelo on Lelepa island, 60 households were interviewed, and samples were collected for waste characterisation. Demonstrations of the following were conducted;
- Source separation of waste
- Organics to be used for household composting and organic matter retention around fruit trees
- Mini landfill behind houses for plastics, paper, metal and other leftover materials
- Methods to reduce volume of waste to be buried
Mavea is a small island in Vanuatu across a channel east of Loganville, Espiritu Santo under the Sanma province with a population of 172.
- A demonstration of reducing volume of waste by placing soft plastics in PET bottles was undertaken for school teaching staff.
A visit to the Island of Tutuba highlighted that the community already had good waste management practices in place. The use of the red bags waste disposal system managed by Luganville Municipal Council (LMC) was discussed and is under consideration by the community. Bagged waste would be sent to the mainland to be collected and processed by LMC.
APWC visited Luganville and undertook a waste audit of 50 households and 15 commercial premises. APWC also created a map of illegal dumping sites for LMC and suggested actions to monitor these sites. In February 2019, as part of APWC’s training program; APWC supported LMC in hosting a training workshop that included a showcase and tour of all the work undertaken by LMC.
Best practice showcase
The Best Practice Showcase was delivered to delegates from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and other regional organisations with a presence in the South Pacific from 4–6 February 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Delegates from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and collaborative organisations including JICA and SPREP attended. Seminars were hosted in the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA) offices and site visits arranged so that delegates could observe waste management practices first hand. Evaluation of the showcase identified a high level of delegate satisfaction with the programme. All delegate responses were positive. Respondents felt there was a high degree of relevance and professional growth arising from their participation.
The best practice showcase delivered;
- Presentations and site visits providing Australian context
- Candid discussion on a range of waste management areas including;
- contract structures and contract management,
- optimised waste fleets and their management,
- container deposit schemes (CDS),
- extended producer responsibility schemes (EPS),
- education and engagement.