In March of 2018, The China Navigation Company (CNCo) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment (SPREP) signed onto the Moana Taka Partnership to address critical waste management issues in the Pacific Islands. This partnership enabled CNCo to utilize empty shipping containers on its vessels to transport recyclable waste from eligible Pacific island ports, pro bono, to be transported to ports in Asia Pacific with eligible recycling facilities.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment (SPREP) represents 26 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (“PICT”), which together are responsible for managing 10% of the world’s oceans. The 8 million island residents are almost wholly dependent on imports, yet have limited space and resources to process plastic, medical, or hazardous waste. Thus, the Moana Taka Partnership comes at a critical time for these island economies to further promote a circular economy and ensure this waste is properly managed.
Of the 8 million metrics tons of plastic that enter the oceans each year, much of this waste ends up traveling on the tides and washing ashore on remote islands that lack the space, facilities, or resources to treat and dispose of it properly. When toxic or hazardous material is part of this mix, it compounds the problem even further, leaving island economies unable to safely deal with the waste.
The Moana Taka Partnership helps alleviate the burden of waste on islands in the South Pacific by enabling Swire Shipping vessels to utilize empty shipping containers to offload waste from islands. This waste is then transported to other countries with proper waste disposal facilities, ensuring that everything from oil to plastics to aerosols are properly recycled.
This partnership is critical to promoting a circular economy on islands in the South Pacific that have limited access to waste and recycling infrastructure. Swire Shipping, the liner business division of CNCo, frequently repositions empty shipping containers across the Pacific rim, which presents an ideal opportunity to move recyclable waste out from these islands to other countries with sufficient infrastructure. The program steps are outlined in the diagram below:
Examples of recyclable waste include:
In agreement with Swire Shipping, the Moana Taka Partnership adopted three overarching goals and priorities at the inception of the program:
Additionally, the Moana Taka Partnership hopes to mobilize resources and expand beyond the South Pacific and include all of SPREP’s islands and territories. This is a model that can be expanded to various shipping companies and island economies, given that the majority of shipping vessels do not utilize empty shipping containers 100 percent of the time.
From just three total shipments in 2019, the Moana Taka Partnership succeeded in expanding to fifty shipments from four islands in 2019. Additionally, they were able to expand recycling capabilities to liquid waste such as used oils, which can then be recycled back into mechanical lubricants. These shipments were sent to six total countries to process recycling materials in Asia Pacific. As this partnership gains momentum, more islands are requesting a similar program, encouraging further expansion in 2020 and 2021.
There are a variety of logistical and practical challenges in furthering this partnership, despite its success so far. While generating awareness that this partnership exists presents one obstacle, expanding the partnership fast enough to meet the demand of island countries and territories is another.
As Anthony Talouli, the coordinator for the partnership, notes, shipping itself is often not the problem—it is finding a market that accepts the waste. Covering the insurance of materials like liquid waste and overcoming the burden to get permits to move the waste can make getting it off the island extremely challenging. Waste such as post-industrial, clean plastic is highly marketable, yet other substances are often harder to find markets for.
During 2020, the Moana Taka Parternship hopes to reach over 100 total shipments, as well as partner with the islands in the region that are not yet covered by the partnership. CNCo is also in the early stages of developing a corporate partnership with the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, and will be attending the Commonwealth Clean Ocean 2020 Conference in London in mid-March. Investment by organizations such as the World Bank and Asia Development Bank in a regional recycling network present a number of opportunities to make the business case for creating a more sustainable and circular economy through shipping partnerships such as Moana Taka.
SPREP is the regional coordinating organisation for the protection and sustainable development of the Pacific island environment. SPREP was established by its Member government’s in1992 to support cooperation and coordination across the region. With headquarters located in Apia, Samoa, SPREP works closely with its 26 Member countries and territories – along with partners, donors and local communities – to deliver on environmental management and sustainable development in the region. For more information on SPREP, visit www.sprep.org.
The China Navigation Company (CNCo) is the wholly-owned, deep-sea shipping arm of the Swire group. Headquartered in Singapore, the company has branches in 15 countries operating a global network of multipurpose liner, dry bulk and bulk logistics shipping services through its three business divisions – Swire Shipping, Swire Bulk and Swire Bulk Logistics. CNCo was founded in 1872 to operate Mississippi-style paddle steamers on China’s Yangtze River. Today, it owns and operates a fleet of over 100 eco-friendly container and multipurpose vessels, bulk and cement carriers, providing sustainable shipping solutions to enable global trade. For more information of CNCo, visit www.swirecnco.com.