The Albury Resource Recovery and Halve Waste team’s hosted over 30 delegates from Pacific, Indian and Caribbean Ocean Island nations in early September and toured the Albury Waste Management Centre. The group had the opportunity to see how landfills can transition away from burying everything and had many questions about the challenges involved in recycling. Island nations have very specific challenges to increase their recycling – a good reminder of how far our services have come when some islands literally have no recycling!

‘Today was enlightening,’ commented one participant. ‘There was just so much to take in. Maintaining a site like this requires both infrastructure and community education, and I was particularly interested to learn how they built the community outreach reach costs into their operations. At the end of the day, waste management requires a change of behaviour, and it was impressive to see how they have built up a relationship with their local community to help achieve this.’

The group had attended other sites across NSW and attended circular economy forums.  ‘This week we’ve spoken a lot about the circular economy,’ commented another participant. ‘But here we’ve actually seen what that looks like in operation, how different closed-loop systems can really feed into each other. Even though this site is different from the Container Deposit Schemes that we’ve seen, in reality, the financial model is quite similar, and it’s been incredibly useful to see how we can apply the principles of sustainable financing in different ways. There is a lot we can take back to the islands, and I’m inspired to see what we can do.’

After the tour some of the participant feedback is very inspiring:

  • One participant noted that they were returning to take on another role, but following the study tour they were energised to change their career path to remain in resource management
  • Papua New Guinea noted the tour was a ‘game-changer’ for them, and they now have a path to follow to effect behaviour change for their 8.9 million population
  • Vanuatu is currently redrafting their (recycling) scheme design to reflect the learning they received on the study tour
  • Niue has commenced design of the (recycling) scheme for their country
  • Solomon Islands has held their first stakeholder meeting on the design of a (recycling) scheme to deliver a positive scheme to recover problem waste items”

“Our delegates are energised and focussed and are now advocates of change, and the life of every single Pacific-Islander will be impacted from the resultant action these delegates take to improve resource management and environmental protection in their countries. Our study tour may have concluded but the work for us and the Pacific island countries is just beginning”.

“Thank you, Fakaye lahi, Kam rabwa, Tagro tumas, Tangkyu, Kekmalmesau, Vinaka, and Fa’afetai tele lava”

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