The installation is also a trial by Cook Islands Tourism and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) to monitor the impact of littering in the area. Three pods are located along Social Centre beach, with one at Blackrock.
Director ICI, Jaime Short said these bin pods are a trial and each one has four bins attached, one for glass, one for plastics, one for aluminium and tin and one for general/landfill rubbish.
“We want to learn about the behaviour of people and it could give us information around monitoring, legislation and management of public spaces. In fact, it has already provided good information which we are now using,” Short said.
Short said the litter survey or information they have collected shows there is a reduction in littering but this could be because others are cleaning up the litter.
She said people are still littering.
“We can see this is happening because of how the rubbish looks, that is sandy and although it’s hard to leave the litter we see; we do for monitoring purposes. Then the next day sometimes someone else has picked it up and put it in the bin. If it hasn’t then we do pick up the litter eventually especially if it is plastic.”
She said the bin pods attract people to bring their rubbish and recyclables from home including food and some e-waste. Passers-by pull over and offload rubbish. Recently they found an empty paint can left behind and a bag of used syringes.
“Even though the bins are side by side, people still don’t sort accordingly. Litter is picked up by others – thank you to them. People still litter and leave recyclables and rubbish behind after drinking sessions even though they are within 20 metres of a bin pod.”
She said people put unfinished food and drinks in bins rather than leave it out for chickens, birds and dogs.
“Seems like we are becoming an affluent country, we have a lot of takeaway containers in the bins. Alternatives to traditional plastic containers and drink cups are widely used.”
Short said while there have been people complaining online about there being no bins, there is a reason why the bins have been taken away in the past.
She said it is mainly that people brought rubbish from home and because it is unpleasant when one has to handle dirty nappies and maggots due to rotting food.
She said ICI had plans to have a trial pod at Muri beach, however, a couple of people who clean the beach area have advised that when they’ve installed bins the litter problem got worse.
“So we are holding off on that. The group regularly cleans up the litter so at least we know the litter will be removed.”
According to the 2003 Environment Act, litter includes includes any refuse, rubbish, animal remains, glass, metal, garbage, debris, dirt, filth, rubble, ballast, stones, earth, sewage, or waste matter, or any other thing of a like nature.
The Act shows that offences relating to littering include any person littering in or on any public place or private land without the consent of its occupier or deposits any inorganic litter in or on any land other than land designated or approved for the disposal of waste.
Upon conviction the person shall be liable, in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding $750, and in the case of a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Short says there are no instant fines on those caught littering.
However, she said the Solid and Hazardous Waste Bill is under review right now which brings in all existing waste related legislation (from Environment Act and Public Health Act) into one dedicated Bill.