The China Navigation Company (CNCo) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment (SPREP) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday to address critical waste management issues in Pacific islands.
Known as the "Moana Taka Partnership", this MoU allows for CNCo vessels to carry containers of recyclable waste from eligible Pacific island ports, to be sustainably treated and recycled at suitable ports in the Asia-Pacific.
"This historic partnership will be of great benefit to our Pacific islands, and one for which we are very appreciative to The China Navigation Company," said director general of SPREP Kosi Latu.
"Our Pacific islands face an immense waste management challenge. With many geographical limitations, the Moana Taka Partnership can help us address the problem of taking our recyclable waste off island for proper recycling. This is a great step, or shall we say paddle, in the right direction."
A total of 21 countries are eligible for these opportunities, including American Samoa, Cook Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
CNCo managing director James Woodrow, said, "China Navigation has provided sustainable shipping solutions to the Pacific islands for 80 years.
He said they stepped in as the communities in the Pacific islands were facing pressing environmental challenges.
Woodrow said there was a critical need for sustainable waste management in the region, and they worked urgently with the SPREP and UN Environment to put this partnership in place.
Under the agreement, Pacific island countries who have insufficient or inappropriate landfill space to store waste, have inadequate waste treatment facilities, and the financial inability to ship recyclable waste are eligible for this opportunity.
The types of materials that are considered recyclable include plastics, aluminium cans, waste oil and ozone depleting substances.
"Better waste management is absolutely critical for Pacific island nations. Landfills should be the last option and throwing it all in the ocean is not an option. We need to innovate, and this kind of public-private partnership is the way forward. Only when we work together can we overcome one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time," said executive director of UN Environment Erik Solheim.