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Rarotonga clean up day collects 357 kilos of waste

Tuesday 3 October 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment, National


Rarotonga clean up day collects 357 kilos of waste
Apii Nikao making a significant difference in preserving the natural look of Nikao beach. NES/23092964

Rarotonga’s “Clean Up the Cook Islands Day” led by the National Environment Service (NES) collected a total of 357 kilos of waste.

The total waste collected was half the amount collected last year (750.8 kg), a notable decrease.

On September 15th, the Rarotonga Clean Up Day collected 150 kg general waste, 29 kg plastic bottles, 25 kg aluminum cans, 40 kg glass bottles, 43 kg scrap metals and 70 kg of miscellaneous items

Mii Herman, NES project coordinator, expressed that this year’s decrease of rubbish compared to 2022 is possibly due to the lower number of registered participating groups, as some clean-up groups did not register.

Accommodation places and district Puna did not register for the clean-up this time around, and there were fewer government agencies, Herman added.

This year, a volume of waste was gathered from the Nikao Social Centre, which consisted of a “concerning portion” of illegally dumped materials.

Herman said: “Illegal dumping incidents at the Nikao Social Centre have unfortunately become a recurring problem.”

“NES will be working closely with government stakeholders, landowners, and the Nikao community to collectively seek and implement effective solutions to address this ongoing issue.”

Herman expressed that monitoring littering and illegal dumping in public areas (beaches, streams, vacant land) poses challenges primarily because it is often difficult to determine ownership of the waste.

“To address this, we are working on clear communications to all users of public spaces, urging them to take their rubbish home etc. This effort requires collaboration across agencies and include initiatives such as lighting or patrolling, with a focus on engaging the tourism sector,” said Herman.

Dumping is illegal in the Cook Islands under the Environment Act 2003, and carries a fine of $750 for an individual and $5000 for a body corporate.

Herman said sufficient evidence and proof of any public littering reported to NES are addressed before any legal action is pursued.

This approach intends to prevent negative public perceptions and reactions, said Herman, however, this is a gap that NES will be addressing under the new Environment Bill & Regulations which are currently under review.

NES extends its gratitude to the dedicated groups who participated in Clean Up the Cook Islands and would like to acknowledge the generous support from Cook Islands Trading Cooperation (CITC) and Prime Foods, who continue to provide the sacks needed for the clean-up, and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI).

Herman would also like to thank the following organisations: CITC, Vonnia’s Ltd, Excil Shipping, Hori Signs, Ministry of Transport, Ports Authority, Te Marae Ora, Titikaveka College, Apii Arorangi, Apii Nikao, Vaitau Primary School – Aitutaki , Te Kaaroa School - Aitutaki, Aitutaki community, and Enuamanu Community.

“Together, we are making a significant difference in preserving the natural beauty of the Cook Islands and promoting a cleaner, more sustainable future for everyone.”