MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Innovative solid waste management systems being pioneered in the Pacific are helping to boost public health and environmental preservation, according to a new publication series from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The brochure series analyzes and identifies solid waste management practices and challenges in the ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific. The brochure series provides a country snapshot of the management, financing, technology and institutional arrangements involved in solid waste management and offers policy recommendations.
“In the face of urbanization and rising consumption levels, the Pacific is struggling to manage growing volumes of solid waste,” said Allison Woodruff, an ADB Urban Development Specialist. “No one country has perfected their own solid waste system, but there are some success stories we share in the publication series.”
Most local councils in the Pacific struggle to finance solid waste collection services, and some countries have piloted user pay systems. Kiribati’s user pay “Green Bag” scheme supported by the Government of New Zealand is an example of how solid waste management service delivery may eventually become self-financing.
Other countries in the region have also successfully upgraded previously unmanaged open dumps that contribute to groundwater and air pollution to well-functioning semi-aerobic sanitary landfill facilities known as “Fukuoka-style” landfills, referring to the city where this technology was pioneered, with assistance from the Government of Japan.
The Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, and Palau have successfully embraced recycling schemes where a deposit of a few cents is charged on aluminum and plastic drink containers, a portion of which can be redeemed when the empty containers are returned to recycling depots. In Kiribati, largely due to this scheme, aluminum cans have been almost entirely diverted from the landfill.
The ADB publication series also highlights private sector involvement in improving solid waste management service performance. In Fiji, a private sector operator has been successfully contracted to manage the Naboro landfill facility that serves the Greater Suva Area. In Samoa, solid waste collection services have been contracted out to private sector operators who cover the whole island of Upolu.
Despite these achievements, a number of challenges remain. Illegal dumping and burning of waste remains common, particularly in growing urban informal settlements such as in Honiara and Port Moresby, where residents are not provided with adequate solid waste collection services. This situation poses a public health risk, such as outbreaks of dengue fever.
Urban centers in smaller countries such as Marshall Islands simply do not have enough physical space for locating new landfills, once existing facilities have reached full capacity. Also, relatively small volumes generated and high costs of transporting materials to processing centers overseas makes recycling costly.