CNMI hopes to learn from Palau’s solid waste initiatives

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Posted on Aug 14 2019

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From left to right,CNMI Solid Waste & Recycle Management executive adviser Jun Kitaoka, Japan Environmental Solutions LLC president Koji Okamoto, Koror’s Solid Waste Management Office manager Selby Etibek, Koror state government consultant Katsuo Fuji, and Office of Planning and Development direct Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong. Fuji is discussing the recycling law in Palau at the Governor’s Office conference room. (Marc A. Venus)

The CNMI hopes to get some ideas from Palau on how to handle solid waste and recycling ideas that could be implemented locally. Toward this end, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres met with Koror State Gov. Franco Gibbons yesterday to talk about solid waste management and how they do it in Koror.

In a move to bring together all government agencies and private leaders who will play a large role in this initiative, yesterday’s meeting at the Office of the Governor also had the participation of Japan Environmental Solutions LLC director Kyosei Nozawa.

Palau currently has a national law that imposes a 0.10 cent tax for each beverage container for liquor, tea, coffee, and drinks that are sold. The funds collected from this tax are used for Palau’s recycling program, which includes the fund used for paying 0.05 cents per bottle to those who want to redeem their containers.

Torres believes that if the CNMI implements a law similar to that of Palau, this would result in a CNMI environment that is cleaner. “If we can create and come up with stricter laws that impose fees [that would result in] more recycled products…we should really prioritize this,” Torres said.

He thanked Gibbons and the other visiting agencies for their help and hopes to get this program running soon. “Palau is the No. 1 steward of our environment and emulating their programs is definitely a plus for us. …If we can’t protect our environment, we can’t expect our tourists to come back,” Torres said.

Last year, Torres sent two delegates to visit Palau and see its recycling industry and factories, and this made Torres interested in implementing a container deposit levy program similar to Palau’s Recycling Act, which imposes a tax on beverage containers. Palau’s recycling facility has been operational since 2011 and it is estimated to make about $400,000 to $500,000 through taxes alone.

According to Office of Planning and Development director Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong, these local efforts are in line with their mandate to come up with a Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan, and that is why his office is pushing for this project.

“This is a major effort by the governor that really impacts sustainable development and helps reduce our footprint from…solid waste,” Ogumoro-Uludong said.

Gibbons also brought to yesterday’s meeting Koror state government consultant Katsuo Fuji and Koror state government Solid Waste Management Office manager Selby Etibek to present what is currently being implemented in Koror and most of Palau.

Aside from OPD, the other government agencies present at yesterday’s meeting were representatives of the Department of Public Works, Department of Finance, Department of Public Lands, and the Bureau of Coastal and Environmental Quality.

Marc Venus Venus

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