top of page

The Real Rubbish News - March 2024. Kiribati Solid Waste Management Programme

Landfill Walls Damaged by Unusually Strong Winds

From October to January, Kiribati experienced persistent strong winds, and heavy rainfalls, from the north and west. Whilst this is the time of year most likely to see that type of weather, the strength and regularity of the winds is very unusual, and the result has been that the landfill walls at Bikenibeu landfill have suffered very severe damage. Bikenibeu is Kiribati’s largest landfill, is built into the lagoon, and still has ten years of waste capacity, but if the walls were breached thousands of cubic metres of waste would escape into the lagoon, creating an environmental catastrophe.

The construction is a simple one of a skin of concrete-filled sand bags covering a sand bund wall. However, over time, the slow movement of water through the wall causes some of the calcium carbonate coral sand to go into solution, with losses of perhaps around 1% per year. After 20 years the concrete skin has no support, as it is not a self-supporting structure. When the recent strong winds whipped up waves that pounded the north and west walls, the wall collapsed inwards at several places. The east wall of the landfill was made twice as thick as this is the side that normally bares the wind. This is an example of climatic changes damaging vital infrastructure.

The pictures show how fast events moved, with a cracked wall in early January largely collapsed by three weeks later.

The Ministry of Environment acted promptly on being alerted to the unfolding disaster by the KSWMP, and convened meetings with the Disaster Coordination committee, which then released funds to the Ministry of Infrastructure to put their seawall crew to work with repairs. But with one very serious area of collapse, and several others in various stages of reaching the same state, the $40,000 available will soon be used up with some very basic repairs. The work is complicated by there being no beach access to the area for any machines or workers to reach it, as development since the original construction in 2005 has blocked the shore. The KSWMP Wheel Loader has been very useful to help lift men and sand and cement up high onto the wall as the seawall team work to effect a repair.

What is really needed is a whole new, self-supporting wall to be built along the outside of the existing landfill wall, but there is currently no funding or design work been done as to how to achieve this. Just one more waste problem to deal with on South Tarawa!

Kaoki Maange Story

The Kaoki Maange (KM) System is a Container Deposit Scheme in which importers must pay a deposit on every imported item such as: PET, Aluminum Can and Lead-Acid Battery. These deposits went into the Specia Fund which is used for the

operation of the KM System.

The system is regulated through its Contract and Environment Licence with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development. While the operation is privatized, the assets and equipment used in the operation are Government-owned. The KM System has in hand an Aluminum Can Baler, a 2-ton truck for the daily collection and a PET Baler that is yet to be installed. The System has been running for almost 20 years now. The system was run by One Stop until late 2022 when the

new System Operator (SO) Clean Spatial Solutions, owned by Mr. Awira, started running the system. The system is operated daily except during weekends and public holidays, with eight different designated collection points around South Tarawa.

Mr. Awira runs the business with eight employees who are very hard-working and set on in getting the job done on the daily. With an increase in public awareness of the system and the efficiency of the SO, more people are coming which means more

cans and used-lead acid batteries (ULABs) are being recycled. With this, Mr. Awira has established new collection points and has also provided a mini trailer to cater for all the cans and batteries being recycled daily. One of the issues, the system had faced was the delay of payments from the Ministry of Finance which affected the performance of the KM System and the SO. However, the Programme has taken the lead to initiate communications with the Ministry of Finance which has successfully solved the issue.

The Programme is responsible for keeping all the data and checking the claims provided by the SO prior to submission to the Ministry of Finance for payments. The Programme has set up a claim processing system along with the checklist to ensure that the claims are checked thoroughly. This also includes noting that the claims provided by the SO are either correct or wrong on the first submission, prior to making corrections where necessary, so as to improve the SO’s claim process. Overall, the SO has been very efficient and determined to get the claims right on first submission, lifting not only their operational standards but also the Minis-

try of Finance’ claim processing procedures.

Comparing the recycling and export data acquired in 2022 from the previous SO against the 2023 data from the current SO. In 2022, 4.4 million aluminium cans were recycled, and 1,890 ULABs, with an export of 65 tons of cans and 24 tons of batteries. Refer to Figure 1 for data visualization of recycled aluminium cans. Whereas in 2023, there were 5.1 million cans, and 4,039 ULABs, with an export of

82 tons of cans and 42 tons of batteries.

The difference in data shows a significant improvement in the KM System. Refer to Figure 2 for data visualization of recycled batteries.

So we see an improvement in the System with the new SO on board and support from the Programme. Looking forward, the PET Bottle baler will be installed soon to resume the recycling of PET Bottles, which will also address issues with plastic and marine litter problems. There are plans to expand the KM System and include other recyclable wastes such as End-of-Life Vehicles and liquid paper board cartons (LPB).

Green Bag Blues!

Age is showing on our Green Bag waste collection trucks, so we have embarked on a programme of repair and refurbishment. Not so easy when we don't have a workshop - yet - and we have to try keep the service running whilst we fix trucks. We have two trucks, one 2014 and one 2018, very similar, and from the same supplier, which makes parts and servicing much easier. Last year we were dealing with brakes, engine servicing and the like. But since October we have been dealing with

broken hydraulic hoses, and major damage caused by poor maintenance practices. Twice now we have had big steel shafts shear off through corrosion and lack of grease. These issues will be better addressed once we get our new Materials Recovery Facility shed built, which will include a maintenance workshop and a contractual requirement for a supervised weekly maintenance session in that

workshop. But meanwhile waste collections, and the public, suffer from poor service.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page