14 October 2021, Apia, SAMOA: A solution to the continued stockpiling, illegal dumping, burning, and landfilling of e-waste in Samoa will be addressed by an innovative and sustainable project partnership between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) administered through the European Union (EU) funded PacWastePlus programme.
E-Waste contains a range of hazardous substances such as lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which contaminates soil, waterways when illegally dumped and pollutes the atmosphere when burnt. Samoan communities like other Pacific Island nations depend largely on the environment for their livelihood and improper management of e-waste can result in the contamination of the natural environment, placing the health of local communities at risk.
In the past months, the PacWastePlus Programme Management Unit has worked closely with the technical officers from MNRE to design a Country project that will contribute to the strategic goal of the Ministry of improving waste management and protecting Samoa’s environment and people.
On 13 October 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Ms Lealaisalanoa Frances Brown-Reupena, the Chief Executive Officer of MNRE and the Director-General of SPREP, Mr Kosi Latu, to enable the e-waste management project implementation to commence formally in Samoa.
“The MOU signed today reflects months of close collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and it sets out the framework of cooperation between SPREP and the Government of Samoa, through the MNRE on the implementation of PacWastePlus programme activities in Samoa”, said the SPREP Director-General during the MoU signing ceremony held at the SPREP office.
The SPREP Director-General acknowledged the working relationship with the EU that has enabled this assistance to the Samoa government and the support provided to the PacWastePlus Programme Management Unit by MNRE, which has resulted in the signing of the MOU.
“This project is focused on creating an efficient and sustainable legislative environment in Samoa to support the long-term operation of an e-waste management system, empowering the Samoan government and engaging with the private sector partners to strengthen existing partnerships and effectively manage e-waste” further commented Mr Latu.
MNRE, with funding and technical support from PacWastePlus, will work towards providing safe e-waste collection, dismantling facilities and incentives to the community to encourage them to return e-waste for recycling, and reducing e-waste deposited into landfills, illegal dumping, and burning.
The project supports the Samoan government’s commitments in the Samoa National Waste Management Act 2010 and contributes towards the achievement of the National Waste Strategy 2019-2023 on effective implementation of regional and international chemical-related conventions.
“This innovative project partnership will assist us to develop and implement appropriate legislation that enables the creation of a sustainable financing mechanism to ensure the ongoing sustainability of e-waste management in Samoa”, said Ms Lealaisalanoa Frances Brown-Reupena, CEO of MNRE.
The MNRE CEO added the project will improve e-waste management, by strengthening design and implement an e-waste “Take Back” system and assist in developing policy to strengthen the management of e-waste by providing a solid framework for an industry response and solution to the e-waste management issues in Samoa.
Project actions will look at providing training and support to staff and contractors for the safe handling and dismantling of E-Waste and assist in the identification of suitable facilities for the dismantling and storage of e-waste prior to recycling overseas. The project will create awareness to have an informed and engaged community with an increased understanding of the importance of waste management and knowledge of how to appropriately manage end-of-life electronics.
Additional support to the Samoa government on improving e-waste management will be provided through the GEF ISLANDS project, another project by SPREP, that will introduce an e-waste repair programme.
The main objective of this partnership is to empower local communities with the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake minor electronic repairs and move from a “Throw Away” society to resource recovery and will help preserve critical landfill space.