EQPB Executive Director Roxanne Siual Blesam at the PacWaste Plus Meeting in Nadi, Fiji (May, 2019)

The Palau Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) recently participated in several meetings and workshops related to the chemicals and waste management.

From April 29-May 10, EQPB Executive Officer Roxanne Siual Blesam and EQPB Compliance Specialist ZenaKulie Rengulbai participated in the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions in Geneva, Switzerland.

At this meeting, many countries, including Palau voted to amend the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment.

At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilize business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance – for this ground-breaking agreement.

Another monumental decision made during this meeting included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds.

The latter has till now been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams.

From May 27-30, 2019, EQPB Executive Officer Roxanne Siual Blesam attended the inception meeting for PacWaste Plus Project Steering Committee in Nadi, Fiji. The PacWaste Plus project is fully funded by the European Union, amounting to 17 Million Euro, where SPREP will work with 15 countries in the Pacific region to improve and enhance waste management activities and the capacity of governments, industry and communities to manage waste to reduce the impact on human health and the environment.

The program is a continuation and up-scaling of a previous European Union funded Hazardous Waste Management project (PacWaste) that assisted countries to manage asbestos, e-waste and healthcare waste. This new program will continue working in these areas as well as expand to address other waste streams: solid wastes recyclables, organic waste, disaster waste, bulky waste and related solid wastes found in wastewater pollution effluent from poor waste management. The program aims to deliver quality outcomes through four main programme delivery areas: Improved data collection, information sharing, and education and awareness; Policies and regulatory frameworks developed and implemented; Best practices, including enhanced private sector engagement and infrastructure development, implemented; Human Capacity Enhanced.

EQPB recognizes that chemicals and waste management is an emerging issue of concern, particularly for Palau and is working to ensure that Palau is improving its capacity to address and prevent the potential risks associated chemicals and other hazardous waste.

As a country that heavily relies on the importation of products, developing a better waste management system is crucial to extending the life our landfills and ensures that products containing chemicals are effectively dealt with. More importantly, improving the management of chemicals and waste protects the health of our people and our environment. (PR)