“My one year and five months’experience of working on separating and collecting garbage in Tropical Island, Palau”
Takanori Fujii- This country has a lot of precious nature such as Rock Island, and many tourists are visiting every day. However, the projects to protect these natural resources are not well done enough; especially, the waste disposal problem is getting more and more severe. [restrict]
I was dispatched to Palau as a JICA volunteer (Adviser of environmental education) in March 2016, and landed on Peleliu Island on April 9th, which was just one year after Japanese Emperor and Empress’ visit. I participated in the memorial ceremony soon after the landing, but I witnessed that all trashes were thrown away without separation. At that moment, I firmly decided my goal of the activity in Palau. It’s “Introducing the new system of separating and collecting garbage.”
Separating garbage is not mandatory in Palau, so almost all garbage is thrown away together. Only drink containers such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles have a deposit system and can be bought by bringing to Redemption center in Koror state. However, Peleliu Island is a remote island and locates far from Koror, so it is very difficult for each individual to bring them to Redemption center. As a result, many beverage containers had been thrown away without being collected.
Therefore, in order to promote the recycling of beverage containers, Peleliu state government started 1st Recycle Project in August 2016. Through this project, beverage containers are bought at half price and transported to Koror by state boat. Although I was worried whether this project would work out well, we could collect over 10,000pcs in the first month, due to the positive impact of community meeting and posters. This project has spread among the residents through word of mouth, and we could collect over 190,000pcs (Monthly average, 15,000pcs) within a year, from August 2016 to July 2017. Moreover, state government’s profit was about 5,000 dollars. This project has benefit not only for reducing the amount of garbage on the island but also for increasing the revenue of the state government. I’m looking forward that other states will introduce this project in near future.
In October 2016, we finally started 2nd Recycle Project of waste separation and collection support system. First of all, in order to decide what kind of waste to collect, I had a meeting with Recycle center, and decided to focus on three types of waste which can be recycled in Palau: “Plastic”, “Metal” and “Glass.” Some of the plastics are exported, and others are used as material for making oil by the waste plastic liquefaction system. Metals are also exported and glass can be used as material for creating glass craft, named “Belau Eco Glass.” A lot of waste can be recycled in this country, which many people don’t know yet. It is very important to recycle waste from the viewpoint of preservation of the environment since it takes very long time to decompose garbage.
After the discussion, we set up 18 “Recycle stations” for waste separation and collection system in Peleliu. These stations were built by the profit of “1st Recycle Project” and support from JICA, and we started to collect garbage in March 2017. Each station has three colored drum cans, which are used for plastics, metals, and glass respectively to collect and separate garbage efficiently. Around 15 trash bags of waste are collected in 2 to 3 weeks. For example, many detergent bottles, 1.5L plastic bottles, butane can, food can, and instant coffee glass containers are collected. It is hard to say that all of the residents are cooperating with this project, but I’m very glad that a certain number of residents have already become accustomed to the separation of garbage. If Peleliu residents continue to work on the reduction of waste even after I go back to Japan, I could say that this one year and five months that I worked in Palau is a great success. Furthermore, it is a tremendous pleasure if this activity spread to other states as well as Peleliu.
The staff of Peleliu state government who supported my activities, the staff of Recycle center, and all Peleliu people who supported my daily lives, thank you very much. I will definitely come back to Palau with my future wife (now, I don’t even have a girlfriend though).