28 May 2024, Tarawa – Communities in Kiribati can now count on better management of healthcare waste on the island thanks to the recent commissioning of an incinerator for the disposal of medical waste at the Ronton Hospital, Kirimati.

The incinerator was secured through the Pacific – European Union (EU) Waste Management Programme, PacWastePlus (PWP). The incinerator and all spare parts were transferred to London Hospital on 7 May 2024.

As part of ongoing work, a request from Kiribati was made to PWP to procure, install and commission a high-temperature healthcare waste incinerator suitable for use at the Ronton Hospital.

The project included the supply and installation of the incinerator enclosure, cyclone-rated and designed to protect the incineration plant from the natural environment, to provide a comfortable work environment and a small area for the storage of wastes materials if necessary.

“The hospital in Kiritimati had an incinerator donated by PIMA from the USA. It was out of function for quite so long and as such we had to burn the hospital waste at the waste land far away from the village twice a week,” Dr. Teraira Bangao explained.

“We could not afford to travel twice a week to burn these medical waste. With the new incinerator which is within the hospital compound, we have no more problem travelling far away but just walk and burn these waste. The incinerator is so hot that all the wastes inside become ashes in two hours.”

As part of the request, training sessions on the identification and maintenance of all incineration plant components and operation of the incineration plant in an effective and environmentally sound manner was also provided.

Three training sessions addressed the theory and operation of the incineration plant. These sessions were well attended, and the staff present were attentive and responsive.

Two trial burns were performed where it was observed that the incinerator operated efficiently.

“Thank you for providing us with the good quality incinerator together with a good and strong enclosure with a comfortable space inside for easy movement for staff working in it,” added Dr. Bangao. “We acknowledge the training sessions to our staff who will be responsible for operating the machine. They are now able to operate the machine and to replace broken spare parts so that the machine would continue to operate for years.”

Mr. Lance Richman, PacWastePlus Officer managing the works for SPREP, said the completed installation of the healthcare waste incinerator at London Hospital will now provide a vital service for the hospital and local community ensuring there is reduced chance for release of infection due to inappropriate waste management practices.

The incinerator has joined support work PacWastePlus has implemented throughout the region to protect the health of communities and the environment from hazards related to medical waste.

Active youth and women’s groups in the Tuvaruhu community in Honiara are leading community-driven initiatives. These initiatives involve collecting plastic bottles, glass bottles, and discarded materials within the community and nearby river. They upcycle these items from trash into art.

 

 

These products, which could have been discarded in landfills or the environment, are transformed into art and craft items. For example, plastic bottles are crafted into flowers, placed on decorated glass bottles, and turned into reusable bags suitable for homes.

 

 

The sale of these crafts, created from plastic and glass bottles, helps community members generate income to meet their families and household needs. The women’s club from the community usually sells their products at market events, in the community, and at national events showcasing community initiatives.

 

 

A women’s club has established an award-winning initiative that converts plastic into bricks. This community project aims to tackle the significant plastic waste problem in the Solomon Islands. A total of ten women from the community are part of the Resilience, Innovation, and Social Change Girls Club (RISC), which aims to promote environmental sustainability through innovative projects and social initiatives.

 

 

Through months of research, trial, and error, they developed a process to transform discarded plastic into sturdy, eco-friendly bricks that can be used for construction. Their journey serves as an inspiring illustration of proactive environmental entrepreneurship. They have discovered a practical solution to address plastic bottle pollution and transformed it into a sustainable business endeavour.

 

 

The innovative waste management solution by the RISC Girls Club is the first in the Solomon Islands and the Pacific region to convert plastic into durable bricks. This project aimed to reduce plastic bottle pollution and empower young women to challenge stereotypes and set a positive example.

 

 

The group gathers plastic bottles from the community, surrounding areas, rivers, and city locations to transform them into eco-friendly products or for recycling purposes.

 

 

These plastic bottles are combined with black sand from the ocean and transformed into bricks and pavers, providing sustainable construction materials that are sold within the community, at markets, and at events, contributing to waste reduction and environmental conservation.

 

 

Their story underscores the power of young minds to effect real change and contribute to a sustainable economy. These young entrepreneurs have demonstrated that innovation and resilience drive progress from discarded plastic to durable bricks. Their actions showcase how every small effort contributes significantly to a cleaner, greener future.

 

 

The group is exploring opportunities to transition from the community to a dedicated site with proper equipment for enhanced management of health and safety aspects in their community-driven initiative.

 

The Tuvaruhu community in Honiara is enthusiastic about initiating a new behaviour change project to engage the community in properly managing recyclables and organic waste generated within the community.”

The pilot project will coordinate with the Honiara City Council (HCC) and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management, and Meteorology (MECDMM) to enhance waste collection services for the community.

 

 

Community leaders and members highlighted that through the implementation of proper waste management practices, they can actively contribute to environmental protection by reducing pollution and conserving natural resources. Due to their commitment to sustainability and conservation, the Tuvaruhu community eagerly anticipates a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations because of their dedicated efforts.

 

 

Staff from the European Union-funded PacWastePlus Programme, implemented through SPREP, with consultants from ThinkPlace, conducted a week-long engagement programme. They coordinated with the MECDMM and community leaders to enhance understanding of the proposed pilot project and gain community support for its implementation.

 

 

The team held meetings with various stakeholders, including the HCC, to understand the specific challenges faced by the council in providing timely solid waste collection services to the Tuvaruhu community. These discussions aimed to identify solutions to prevent waste from being improperly disposed of in rivers and community areas, where it is often incinerated.

 

 

The programme engaged community members in testing different interventions to evaluate their effectiveness, improve delivery methods, and set criteria for measuring impact and potential adoption in the community. The selected intervention for implementation will be evaluated for its long-term effects on the targeted behaviours.

 

 

This pilot project aims to reduce waste disposal and dumping in the Tuvaruhu community while promoting proper sorting, recycling, upcycling, and composting to provide community members with opportunities for responsible waste disposal and value creation.

 

 

The Solomon Islands community pilot project will join with communities in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, where the outcomes of the pilot projects will assist communities and governments throughout the Pacific to replicate the actions and extend the benefits beyond the pilot communities.

 

 

The project will also focus on educating community members about the importance of sustainable waste management practices and the environmental benefits of reducing waste. By empowering individuals to take responsibility for their waste and providing them with the knowledge and resources to do so, the project aims to create a lasting impact on the Tuvaruhu community and inspire similar initiatives in other communities across the Pacific region.

 

 

Through collaboration and knowledge sharing, the pilot project seeks to create a network of environmentally conscious communities working towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for the Pacific.

 

 

Community Engagement Photo Album

 

 

 

Stockpiles of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) have been safely removed from the Nauru landfill in a recent asbestos abatement activity funded by the European Union-funded PacWastePlus Programme. The cleanup effort involved safely repacking and transporting the hazardous material to a designated disposal facility in New Zealand.

The removal of the ACM has eliminated a potential health hazard for the local community and marks a significant milestone in hazardous waste management in Nauru. Training to the standards set in the Draft Nauru Asbestos Management Code of Practice (equivalent to AUS/NZ standard CPCCDE3014A) was provided to 52 local staff involved in the abatement efforts, along with the provision of personal protective equipment.

The abatement crew acknowledged the information learned during the workshop as valuable.  “I never thought that it could be done that way, and I came to know, and seeing what was done, that people would know about asbestos-containing materials and that they should be taken seriously, but it is also not a product to fear if you wear proper protective equipment and dispose of it properly and do not disturb it”, said Ms. Delvina Thoma, Supervisor, NCR Waste Dumpsite.

“The provision of this abatement training as part of this removal works was important, as new members of the waste unit need to be trained on how to do the abatement work, as well as learn how to monitor and manage this issue, as our people need to be educated on how to safely manage ACM.  We hope PacWastePlus can offer similar training opportunities in future” said Mr Bryan Starr, Director of Environment.

“I would like to see the Draft Asbestos Code of Practice work taken up under the Act, so that any future ACM abatement work will follow that code, and ensure proper monitoring occurs as well.”

 

 

The deteriorating containers housing the ACM were opened, and the stored ACM waste was removed and double-wrapped, put on certified pallets, double-wrapped again with 200-micron plastic, and secured to the pallets using a nylon strapping machine.

The material was then transferred into new seaworthy containers and sealed.  The old containers were vacuumed clean, wet wiped, and closed to ensure no ACM waste remained. Continuous air monitoring and sampling were conducted throughout the project to safeguard the safety of workers and others near the site.

 

The SPREP implemented and EU-funded PacWaste Plus programme at the request of the Ministry of Health in Timor Leste, developed and delivered Healthcare Waste Management Training for hospital staff throughout the country.

 

The training was designed for those who are responsible for implementing both the waste management strategy and conducting the education program.  The day-long training covered seven modules and provided holistic training on issues of waste management from healthcare facilities.

 

 

Sixteen  Ministry staff graduated from the training and are now able to conduct future training sessions for hospital personnel as required.

With PacWaste Plus support, the Ministry trainees delivered the course to over 150 staff at the Guido Valadares National Hospital, Maliana Referral Hospital, Suai Referral Hospital, and Maubisse Referral Hospitals.

 

 

The training participants expressed appreciation for the delivery of the training of trainers structured course which would enable them to share knowledge and learnings across the referral hospitals once the trained officers return to their respective areas of operation.

 

“This training was valuable as we learned of important aspects of healthcare waste like the need for proper management and safe disposal of medical waste generated in our hospitals,” said a participant of the training.

“We now feel empowered to share this knowledge gained on improving safe disposal of our medical waste with our colleagues back in the referral hospitals so they can put into practice what we have learned,” said another training participant.

 

The programme will continue to work with MoH to help improve healthcare waste management in Timor Leste and assist in capacity development opportunities.

 

The PacWastePlus programme, in collaboration with the National Directorate for the Environment and the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Timor Leste, is improving long-term healthcare waste management through the construction of specialised facilities and the development of sustainable waste management practices in hospitals.

Baucau Hospital has recently been the focus of works, with the construction of three disposal facilities which are a pit for disposal of legacy partially burned medical waste located on hospital grounds, a specialised disposal pit to accept sharps waste, i.e., scalpels, needles, vials, etc., and an anatomical pit for disposal of biological waste.

Before the construction of this facility, waste was either burned in open fields adjacent to the hospital wards or collected by local waste contractors for disposal.

During a handing over ceremony of the improved healthcare waste disposal facilities, held in late December 2023, the Vice Minister of Health, Hon. Jose dos Reis Magno expressed gratitude to the European Union and SPREP for the upgrade works carried out to improve medical waste facilities in Hospital.

 

“We appreciate the continued efforts of SPREP which will support repairs to the hospital Incinerators to burn the medical hazardous waste and proper disposal facilities for managing medical waste to help reduce the health issues and request for to continue support the same facilities of the Medical Waste into other Referral Hospitals,” said Hon. Jose dos Reis Magno during the event.

The PacWastePlus programme will continue to provide technical support to Timor-Leste to enhance the management of healthcare waste in hospitals and referral healthcare centres.

The Kingdom of Tonga has made a significant effort to safeguard its communities from the dangers of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) by creating and approving an Asbestos Management Code of Practice (AMCOP). This code guides the safe handling and supervision of ACM within the nation.

 

The Honourable Prime Minister and Acting Minister for MEIDECC, Hon Huakavameiliku,  on January 18, 2024, approved the enforcement of the AMCOP.  The Department of Environment in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Department of Customs, Ministry of Infrastructure, and Waste Authority Limited is now determining the best approach to inform the regulated community on the AMCOP and how they will implement the necessary compliance activities to ensure the community is safeguarded.

 

 

The Department of Environment under the MEIDECC requested the PacWastePlus Programme to provide the department support to develop an AMCOP and a supplementary guide for Tonga. The AMCOP is a document that provides standards and best practices for the safe handling and management of asbestos in Tonga.

 

 

The AMCOP advises regulatory bodies, practitioners, tradespeople, and the public on how to undertake safe work requirements when working or encountering asbestos. It is a practical document that provides information on working with asbestos, the risks associated with that work, and how to safely manage risks and protect the health of workers and residents.

 

 

The Asbestos Management Code of Practice is seen as a vital initial measure to guarantee the effective management of asbestos in the future by offering guidance on managing, controlling, and ultimately containing all asbestos materials in Tonga.

MEIDECC and other agencies will commence implementation of a National Education and Awareness Plan to increase the knowledge and capacity of businesses and residents on how to live safely with asbestos, and how to manage ACM as directed by the AMCOP.

Conservation Officers from 10 Provinces in Fiji received training on Organic Waste Processing, and Monitoring of Composting facilities, as part of ongoing capacity building on waste management.  Training was provided by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme through the EU-funded PacWastePlus Programme as part of a country mission conducted in March 2024.

The Organic Processing training has empowered Provincial Conservation Officers to design suitable composting projects for local villages and troubleshoot composting operations. The Manager for the Conservation Division of the iTaukei Affairs Board opened the training highlighting that “waste management is aligned to one of the pillars of the iTaukei Affairs Board on sustainable use of the environment.”

 

 

The impact of waste and pollution is taking its toll on the health of communities, degrading natural ecosystems, threatening food security, impeding resilience to climate change, and adversely impacting the social and economic development of countries in the region. The PacWastePlus programme assists government staff to combat this by enhancing existing activities and building capacity and sustainability in waste management practices.

Recent waste audits identified that more than 50% of Fiji’s waste is organic waste, which when managed improperly can increase greenhouse gas generation and pollute the environment.  SPREP has partnered with Fiji’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the iTaukei Affairs Board Conservation Division to design and pilot an organic processing programme in 25 villages across nine provinces.

 

 

Composting will enrich soil quality, improve crop yield, increase soil water retention, enhance food security, and increase climate resilience for local communities, all whilst reducing a source of pollution from improper waste management.

The training has resourced Provincial Conservation Officers so they can now design and implement similar projects in other villages across the fourteen provinces in Fiji that are currently overwhelmed with waste management issues in the absence of garbage collection services.

 

With support from PacWastePlus, Kiribati aims to make dwellings and communal areas on Banaba Island safe by eliminating the risk of asbestos fibre exposure to the public. This work involves removing and safely disposing of Asbestos-containing material (ACM) from high-risk sites on Banaba Island.

 

Banaba Island has a long history of asbestos contamination that began with phosphate mining in the early 1900s. Phosphate mining ceased in 1979. Movable assets were transferred to the Kiribati Government, while fixed assets (Structures built with Asbestos Containing Materials) were given to the Banaba Council.  These buildings are now heavily degraded, potentially posing health risks to the remaining island residents.

 

 

In mid-2022, a team from the Ministry of Environment and Conservation Division (MELAD) conducted an asbestos assessment on Banaba Island, as part of the European Union-funded PacWastePlus project implemented by SPREP. The assessment identified three priority buildings in need of asbestos abatement: the Banaba Hospital, Junior Secondary School, and Primary School.

 

 

With the help of MELAD and the Banaba Council, PacWastePlus deployed specially trained contractors to Banaba Island to undertake appropriate removal of the asbestos from the buildings.  Local Banaba Island residents were trained on safely removing and storing asbestos-containing materials as an additional activity, so they could remain safe from asbestos in other buildings they may interact with.

 

 

Over 3,800 m2 of asbestos-containing materials were removed from the buildings in Banaba Island and stored in “HAZIBAGS” which are specially made to ensure no release of asbestos fibres during handling and transport. The bags were shipped to Tarawa and onward to New Zealand for safe disposal in a landfill approved to receive asbestos-containing material.

 

 

This initiative is crucial for the health and safety of the residents of Banaba Island, as exposure to asbestos can lead to serious respiratory illnesses and cancer. By removing these hazardous materials from the community buildings, the project is improving the immediate environment but also protecting future generations from potential health risks.

The collaboration between MELAD, the Banaba Council, and the PacWastePlus programme is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Banaba community to create a safer and healthier living environment for all its residents.

 

Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) facilitated the first Technical Working Committee meeting for the introduction of a Product Stewardship Scheme (PSS) for the Solomon Islands. The multi-agency Technical Working Committee is established to support MECDM in the design of Solomon Islands’ PSS, and the establishment of drafting instructions for the associated legal frameworks.

In opening the meeting, MECDM’s Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services Mr. Karl Kuper stated “Today marks the beginning of an important dialogue where we will explore the technical aspects, the operational frameworks, and potential challenges in the introduction of the ARFD system”.

Audits of Solomon Island’s waste stream in 2019 and 2021, identified more than 80% of materials currently landfilled can diverted through the introduction of both recycling and organics management systems.  Following the national plastic ban in 2023, MECDM has identified other key opportunities for managing waste in the Solomon Islands.

 

 

“Banning certain single-use plastics where a viable alternative exists was an exciting start for our country to consider the items we are using, and saying no to the ones we don’t need,” says Debra Kereseka Deputy Director Environment,  Environment and Conservation Division, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management, and Meteorology (MECDM).

Ms. Kereseka further highlighted that it was determined during the drafting of the Plastic Ban Regulations that “many other common waste items are not appropriate to be banned but should be managed through other means.  In particular beverage containers were identified, as a material to be managed through a “deposit-refund” arrangement could incentivise the community to return the items to recycling points and providing financing to assist the recyclers to process and manage the items”.

The Technical Working Committee nominated MECDM as the chair.  SPREP, through the PacWastePlus Programme, is supporting the work on Product Stewardship in the Solomon Islands.