Over 20 million cans and bottles have been recycled since container deposit legislation was adopted by Nitijela two years ago, and implemented by Majuro Atoll Waste Company and the Ministry of Finance.
This has injected nearly $800,000 into community recyclers who bring bottles and cans to the MAWC recycling facility in Delap.
The legislation also included bans on plastic shopping bags and styrofoam containers. RMI EPA General Manager Moriana Phillip highlighted the impact that this legislation has had on Majuro.
“The effect on the Marshall islands of the legislation has been very significant,” said Phillip. “No more styrofoam plates and cups blowing around the streets and washing up on the beaches. No more hundreds of thousands of plastic bags heading to the landfill per year, or choking our shores and killing the coral. Cans and plastic bottles have disappeared from the streets, and where you do see one, it was usually thrown in the last few hours and if you look again tomorrow someone will have picked it up.”
Aside from environmental improvements, the program is putting a lot of money into the community. “Schools, churches and low income people have made significant money by recycling,” said Philip. “We can make a difference in the face of seemingly very difficult problems, if we try.”
She heaped praise on MAWC staff for doing a “splendid job running the program on site.”
Data provided by MAWC shows that in 2019 alone, the recycling center at MAWC collected 15.7 million cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles. Cans accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total recycled in 2019, with 9.2 million returned to MAWC. PET plastic bottles were next at 41 percent, with 6.4 million being turned in for recycling. Glass bottles were only about one percent of the overall total, with 141,916 recycled in 2019.
MAWC said it paid out $785,724.75 in refunds at five cents per piece. MAWC receives a one cent per item handling fee to manage the program according to the Nitijela legislation. This amounted to $157,144.95 in 2019.
Since August 2018, when the program started, 20 million cans and bottles have been recycled, MAWC said.
“We are projecting 12 million cans, PET and glass bottles annually in the future,” Phillip said.
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