Each day, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea generate on average nearly six kilograms of waste per person—the equivalent of each person using 24 one-liter plastic bottles every day. While this volume is comparatively low, communities in Pacific Island countries face significant waste management challenges, including irregular and inefficient waste collection and limited opportunities for recycling. Pacific Island countries may not produce much plastic waste, but they are on the receiving end of significant amounts of waste due to ocean currents bringing other countries plastic waste to their shores. Across the Pacific Islands, solid waste management is also hampered by insufficient financial resources; limited land area; customary land ownership; environmental fragility; insufficient human, financial, and transportation capacity and regulatory frameworks.
It is estimated that many urban areas—which comprise 35 percent of the total Pacific Island population or roughly 4.3 million people—collect less than half of the municipal solid waste generated. Given the islands’ limited recycling capacity, most waste is illegally dumped in vacant areas, the ocean, or collected in piles and burned. Waste burning releases harmful chemicals, impacting public and environmental health and contributing to climate change. By 2040, if corrective measures are not implemented, the annual volume of plastic entering the ocean from the Pacific Islands is expected to triple.
In each of the three Pacific Island countries where Clean Cities, Blue Ocean is working—Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea—USAID is concentrating assistance in the following areas:
- Building local government capacity – USAID will facilitate a Solid Waste Capacity Index for Local Government assessment, in select cities so that local governments can improve their capacity to develop and implement robust solid waste management systems.
- Providing technical assistance – USAID will provide technical assistance through the provision of experts in solid waste management, marine litter, dumpsite remediation, recycling, materials recovery facility, and other areas.
- Piloting local solutions – USAID will provide small-grant awards to local organizations to demonstrate locally based solutions and promote the practice of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) at the community level.
- Strengthening partnerships and multi-stakeholder alliances – At the regional level, USAID will engage other development partners working to reduce ocean plastic pollution. CCBO, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, will support the development of the Pacific Stakeholders Landscape Analysis Report and update its Pacific Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter 2018-2025.
- Pacific Island Recycling Foundation in collaboration with Waste Recyclers Fiji Ltd and as part of Fiji’s national solid waste strategy will design and build I-Recycle Hub Bins in Suva City to make recycling more user-friendly.