June 15, 2012
Pohnpei, FSM—During a dual purpose ceremony this morning, Japan’s Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki handed over a newly renovated recycling center to the Kolonia Town Government. The renovation was funded by Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.
Ambassador Suzuki said that a JICA study of the landfill in Dekehtik showed that over 14 tons of waste enters the landfill on a daily basis and that 55% of the waste comes from Kolonia Town alone. He said that the recycling center will help to keep aluminum cans from entering the landfill. “If this could be a chance for us to think of the environment and future of this country, I call this project a great success,” he said during his speech.
Pohnpei’s only recycling center is just behind Ellen’s Market in the China Town area of Pohnpei. Because of the $54,234 grant provided by the Japanese government, the building is now completely enclosed and easy to access on the newly paved road between the Seabreeze Hotel and Ellen’s Market.
The second purpose for this morning’s ceremony was realized when Governor John Ehsa declared full implementation of the Pohnpei Recycling Law which, according to a speech by Lt. Governor Marcello Peterson, was at least eight years in the making. The law which passed in August of 2011 established a six cent per can levy for importation of canned beverages. The first levy for aluminum cans imported during the month of June will be due from first sellers of canned beverages in mid July.
On Monday, June 18 the refurbished recycling center will begin issuing cash refunds for aluminum cans at the rate of five cents per can. The other penny collected from importers will go toward maintenance of the recycling program. Proceeds from the sales of collected aluminum cans will also be used to support the administrative costs of the program including the cost of supporting recycling retention centers.
Lt. Governor Peterson said that next week a retention center will be opening in Madolenihmw. The law allows for businesses, groups and municipalities to run retention centers upon application and inspection by the EPA. He said that so far the Madolenihmw Municipality had been the only municipality to apply but he expected others would follow suit.
There is a 500 can minimum for cash redemption. At 24 cans per case the 500 can minimum is four cans short of 21 cases.
Benito Dannis said that the recycling center will not be counting each and every can that comes into the recycling center. Dannis is Kolonia Town’s Chief of Public Works and oversees the activities of the Kolonia recycling center. He said that when a person or group comes into the center with cans to be redeemed the cans will first be sorted between usable and unusable cans on an outside “table”. The usable cans will then be dumped into a surprisingly small container that looked to be approximately three feet wide by three feet long by three feet tall. He confirmed twice that the container is measured to fit 500 cans.
Redemptions will be based on the number of times that container can be filled. At five cents per can one load equals $25.
After the ribbon cutting, participants at the ceremony were treated to a demonstration of the can crushing unit at the facility. A crew member dumped 500 cans into the unit and within a few moments an aluminum wafer popped out the machine ready to be catalogued for shipping to recyclers.
Dannis said that the last 20 foot container Kolonia Town sent to recyclers contained over 27,000 pounds of crushed aluminum. He did not know the dollar value of its contents.
In his former capacity as Mayor of Kolonia Town, Lt. Governor Peterson was the principal driving force behind Pohnpei’s aluminum can recycling law. He challenged Pohnpeians to take advantage of the plan to clean up Pohnpei so that future generations can benefit from what was begun today.
In a later interview Lt. Governor Peterson said that in three or four months the recycling program will expand to include the collection of plastic bottles and car batteries for recycling.