A confluence of factors contributed to make us initiate this year an Integrated Waste Management Plan at Don Bosco Technological Institute (DBTI). First of all, Pope Francis has instituted 2020, starting on May 24, as the Year of Laudato Si. Incidentally, the Rector Major of the Salesian Society, Fr. Angel Artime, chose as the theme of this year’s strenna, “Good Christians, Upright Citizens.” In that strenna, Fr. Angel emphasized concrete initiatives for the care of the environment as practical ways of exemplifying being upright citizens. In our Vice-Province of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, the Council has chosen to focus its Thrust on Laudato Si, proposing attitudes to be developed for each month. The points of emphasis for the months of June, July and August are the three terms commonly used to designate practical care for the environment: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Moreover, DBTI is a member of Don Bosco Green Alliance, an international movement of young people from the Salesian Family institutions, who contribute to global environmental action, thought and policy. Recently Pope Francis invited Don Bosco Green Alliance to lead the school sector during the Year of Laudato Si.
There were efforts at waste collection in DBTI, like buying of willie-bins, weekly rubbish collection, selling of scrap metal, etc. But these have focused more on waste collection rather than on waste management. Much of these efforts depended on a few of the staff and the regular community service by the male student residents. There is weekly rubbish collection using three huge bins and occasional gathering of assorted rubbish in a big metal skip bin, done by a private company.These are very expensive to sustain and we are not sure if our rubbish is disposed of in an environmental friendly way.
We have an incinerator used to burn paper, cartons, plastic materials and other stuff. The smoke produced can disturb the community, our neighbors and the environment. Furthermore, we foresee a problem of how to properly dispose the ashes from this incinerator. This year, three big compost pits were made at the back of the school, two at the Salesian residence, and two others at the staff houses. However, this needs constant follow-up, since some mix different types of rubbish into the compost pit.
There is, therefore, a need for an Integrated Waste Management for DBTI. We would wish that all members of the community will be involved in this project and that all types of waste can be properly disposed of.
Our ultimate goal is Zero Waste, as it is defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance: “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”
Our first step in realizing this project is organizing a team. Fr. Ariel Macatangay, DBTI Economer, spearheads this project by calling for interested volunteers from among students and staff. In the initial meeting on June 11, 2020, 8 staff and 6 students attend. The team finalizes an initial plan and volunteer to work on the following areas:
In the meanwhile, efforts at recycling different types of waste are intensifying. The Administration sets up a recycling shed near the three compost pits, along the back fence. Some male residents led by Clyde Dickson, a third year Education student, spend their work and some free time in segregating various types of plastic products, plastic wrappers, aluminum and metal tins, glass bottles, papers, cartons, wood and other types of waste.
These initiatives at waste management take place even while the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. During the second lock-down at Port Moresby, the waste management team meets on another Thursday afternoon on 30th July. Even though the team comprises only of the resident staff and students, other members like Clyde and Justin, the acting captain of the male residents, join in. The group evaluates what it has done so far and continues to make suggestions for development and improvement. Soon after the meeting, the following developments take place:
As of the moment, much of the efforts in waste management are exerted by the student and staff residents. Soon, we hope to involve more and more people until every member of the educative pastoral community becomes aware and contributes responsibly for sustainable management of waste. The following plans and initiatives are still in process:
As in other parts of the world, the youths become protagonists of initiatives and concrete actions for the care and preservation of the environment. We hope that our youths at DBTI and eventually of our locality can sustain their efforts at integrated waste management and contribute in making Papua New Guinea the Paradise of the Pacific.