SAN FRANCISCO (EPA) — As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated America Recycles Day and marked the anniversary of the agency’s national recycling strategy recently, EPA’s territorial partners in the Pacific Islands are making significant progress to improve waste reduction and recycling.
“EPA is proud to recognize zero waste achievements in American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. These efforts are making real improvements in how island communities manage their waste and protect the environment,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “These local programs across the Pacific Islands protect communities from pollution by reducing waste going to landfills and reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas warming the earth.
American Samoa: Over the last year, 2,000 pounds of electronic waste from the local Department of Education were diverted from landfills and collected for recycling. A youth education program on waste reduction and management was featured in American Samoa EPA’s “Lumana’i Initiative,” a week-long environmental online classroom for high school students across the island.
“Sustainable waste management is a multifaceted approach in which recycling is a critical component that focuses on resource recovery and reuse — an approach appropriate for our island home,” said William Sili, acting director, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency.
Guam: The territory established a $400,000 grant program for waste reduction and zero waste initiatives on Guam and is dedicating up to 10 percent of the territory’s recycling revolving fund for Guam EPA’s recycling and zero waste initiatives. Guam EPA’s abandoned derelict vessel removal group brought local and federal government agencies together to survey, remove and recycle off-island 11 abandoned vessels weighing over 60 tons.
“Our administration celebrates America Recycles Day every day by continuing to pay special attention to climate resiliency, sustainability and zero waste with the overarching goal of environmental protection in mind,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “Local programs such as Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio’s Island-wide Beautification Task Force, the Mayors Council of Guam Island-wide Environmental Clean-up Program, the Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub, and Guam EPA’s Abandoned Derelict Vessel Removal have shown us that diversification in recycling provides us with great opportunities highlight the natural beauty of Guam, showcasing it to those who cross our shores and to those who call Guam home.”
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Tinian established a municipal recycling program, provided recycling bins to Tinian Jr. Sr. High School’s junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and announced plans to end the use of single-use plastics on Tinian. Sinapalo Elementary School hosted CNMI’s recycling coordinator to educate students about recycling and the benefits of waste reduction.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres held a CNMI Recycles Week ceremony to encourage the CNMI community to “acknowledge and take part in the efforts to combat climate change, promote sustainable living, and protect our environment for our children and the future generations of our great Commonwealth.”
On America Recycles Day this year, EPA announced the availability of $100 million in grants for recycling infrastructure and recycling education and outreach projects across the country. EPA has published two requests for applications for new recycling infrastructure grants and education and outreach grants totaling $70 million. EPA also announced a new grant program for states and territories totaling $30 million.