The purpose of the trip will be to deliver some materials that can be used to store and ship recyclables and hazardous waste, fund the removal of some crates of “hazardous waste” (batteries, e-waste, whiteware) from each of the islands, and talk with Island Government teams and community groups to discuss some options to consider to manage/recycle each waste stream.
This waste initiative is funded by the New Zealand High Commission and Infrastructure Cook Islands.
The NZHC is also funding a small glass crusher to be delivered to Manihiki through this programme. By weight glass makes up the largest portion of our waste stream (almost 50 per cent in Rarotonga and over 25 per cent on outer islands) and it is the easiest product to remove from landfill/dumps as it is non-toxic and can be converted back to sand and used as a valuable material for road maintenance, construction and so on.
"It's exciting to be involved in this journey," says Hilary, "Waste management on an island like Rarotonga keeps us busy enough and we often talk to you all about the challenges we face. But the challenges are equally, or even more important in the Pa Enua, particularly in the Northern Group due to their remoteness."
"Globally we are gaining more and more awareness about our waste," adds Hilary. "It's hard to turn the TV on these days without seeing new footage from different areas and polluted oceans around the world. The footage can be quite scary. What we now know is our global dependency on single use items and our throw away culture is not sustainable. And there are long term pollution effects if we just keep chucking our rubbish in a hole or burning it and hoping it will disappear."
ICI Secretary, Diane Charlie-Puna says: "The point of this voyage is not to go up there to say how we've been managing waste is wrong, it's simply about raising awareness of how our waste has changed over the years and the new risks we now face. But, importantly, it’s about what some solutions might be and to talk to the people in the North about their ideas and what will work on their islands. The timing is right to consider some options to keep these islands beautiful."
These are one of the waste initiatives ICI would like to promote in support of its Solid Waste policy and its Strategic Plan.
ICI acknowledge the support of the New Zealand High Commission, and Cook Islands General Transport (CIGT) who have supported this initiative from the start and given great advice regarding shipping.
Also to CITC for donating pallet wrap and other items to give to the Pa Enua, and Mike Rennie who donated the big bulk bags (with new bases sewn on by South Pacific Canvas) which come to Rarotonga full of aggregate and can be used to transport recyclable materials like aluminum and plastic bottles. Cook Islands Towage will allow ICI staff to be on island to undertake their activities and plans while they are offloading and loading cargos. Crates will be filled up with waste such as cans, batteries, e-waste and will be transported back to Rarotonga on the return leg of the barge from each islands.
“We are really excited about the partnerships so far and I am now excited to meet with the Island Mayors and EOs to discuss their ideas and find some workable solutions to start transporting and managing waste from our most remote communities.”