Honiara, Solomon Islands – Five Honiara schools are trying for 10 weeks to replace single-use plastics in their lunch service through a new waste management initiative.
Koloale, Florence Young and Emmaus schools are trialing a refundable-fee scheme, which involves lunch vendors or the school canteen serving lunches with reusable containers. Students are refunded a small portion of their lunch payment if they return the containers after finishing their lunch.
Saint Nicholas College and Honiara Senior High School are testing a discount scheme, through which students will pay slightly less if they bring a reusable container from home.
“We hope in the next 10 weeks what this does is help with change of behaviour in the way students do things, especially with regards to plastics,” Saint Nicholas College Principal James Lengi said.
“That will eventually transform the way they conduct themselves at home, in town, and hopefully in the future, it will make a difference in the effort of the government, the United Nations Development Programme and NGOs that advocate for the environment.”
The Waste Management Innovation Initiative, which began the Schools Rethinking Plastic Trial in mid-July, aims to eliminate reliance on single-use plastics and better manage waste with solutions informed by behavioural insights. The approach draws on psychology, economics and neuroscience to explain how people make decisions.
The trial will continue through late September and include banning plastic bags or reducing plastic packaging as a supporting component.
Students from Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and several of the participating schools will assist with data collection during the trial and have the opportunity to learn about plastic waste.
Trial results will guide the Waste Management Innovation Initiative, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by the Innovation Facility, in efforts to improve waste management in Honiara.
According to initiative partner the Honiara City Council, 80 tonnes of waste are generated in Honiara each day, and 22.7 tonnes are unmanaged.
Plastic makes up about 21 percent of the city’s daily waste, based on estimates from a 2011 Honiara waste characterization report.
“Managing plastics and other solid waste is a pressing challenge for the local government that requires innovative, effective solutions,” UNDP Solomon Islands Operations Manager Keswar Leelah said.
“We hope that the Waste Management Innovation Initiative and its pioneering application of behavioural insights will support better management systems and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Waste Management Innovation Initiative is supported by the UNDP Innovation Facility, which is funded by the Government of Denmark.
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