Vanuatu plastic bottle buyback project injects money into local economy

A plastic bottle buyback programme in Vanuatu recently injected VT$10 million (AUD$17,000) into the local economy.

The programme is helping members of the community to pay school fees, put food on the table and most importantly preserve the island nation’s beautiful environment.

In June this year, the Salem Plastik blong Sevem Solwora campaign offered members of the community 10 vatu for a plastic bottle. Run by World Vision Vanuatu’s Waste Not, Want Not Project, the organisers were hoping to collect a moderate million bottles within a week. What happened, however, far exceeded their expectations. 

“Our target was met within the four days of the event. We managed to receive more than a million bottles on the fourth day,” said Florence Bule, WNWN Programme Manager at World Vision Vanuatu. “With support from the Vanuatu Environment Science Society and Vanuatu Recycle Cooperation over 42 ton of waste plastic was removed from Port Vila Environment.” More than 1.4 million bottles were counted with money paid to 892 community members from all over Efate Island.

World Vision Vanuatu is a child-focused organisation. But the organisation’s Waste management project, Waste Not, Want Not Project, funded by ANCP, is making a huge difference in the nation’s battle against waste and pollution, ultimately contributing a better future for the children of Vanuatu.

“The goal was to prepare the greater Port Vila area for participation in potential future plastics buy-back schemes and lessen the negative impacts of waste and plastics in Port Vila environment and advocate for policy to start thinking about creative ways to keep the environment safe.”

Bule shared the success of the project on the 4th day of the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable (3rdCPRT) during a panel discussion on “Rallying communities around waste management.” She said World Vision Vanuatu was excited to be part of the 3rdCPRT, a forum that allows people from across the globe to share their experiences in how they are keeping the environment protected.

“Working together is the best part of bringing change, one person or organisation cannot impact a greater change, our partnership and sharing of learnings will ignite change,” she said. “It is important to be part of this meeting to share learnings and encourage one another to continue to do good for our environment.”

Looking at the wider Pacific, Bule said we cannot be ignorant about the risk of waste and pollution.

“If communities and individuals can recognize the risk of increase plastic containers in our environment, we can increase the frequency of conversations around encouraging recycling and proper waste management to lessen the negative impacts of waste plastics in our environment,” she said. “In order to achieve this, I feel that we must all speak the same language, take action to ensure our generation can live a long healthy and resilience lifestyle.”

Getting back to the Waste Not, Want Not Project, Bule said working with the communities in Port Vila and Luganiville to strengthen the livelihood of community members to increase economic resilience and health, through improved waste management practices and business opportunities, has been one of the highlights. “Working with youths to empower them, strengthening their rubbish collection business by providing business trainings and connecting them with their customers is another highlight,” she said.

There are also challenges. “The biggest challenge is getting policy makers and individuals to understand the importance and planning towards a more sustainable waste management system,” she said. 

But she is hopeful that as the work in Vanuatu and the Pacific continue to address waste management, these mindsets would eventually change. 

The 3rdCPRT continues this week.


Photo supplied