Mr Amitesh Deo, Senior Consultant, Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited.
Recently we have witnessed increasing interest in recycling as countries try to deal with the mounting waste problem. There are companies among us who have been in this business for many years, like Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited. We interviewed Mr Deo to find out more about this company.
1. Waste Recyclers (Fiji) Ltd recently celebrated it silver jubilee, and thus, is the oldest recycling company in Fiji. Tell us a little bit about yourselves and the challenges that were encountered, and likewise, milestones that were achieved, over that time?
Waste Recyclers Fiji PTE Ltd (WRFL) celebrated its 25th Anniversary on 25th May 2019. The core business of WRFL is to ensure that recyclables do not end up in landfills, or worst, get buried, burnt or dumped illegally. The company is made up of people who are truly passionate about recycling and the environment.
Among the challenges is the engagement of important stakeholders which has been extremely difficult. WRFL is mostly run by local personnel and one of the great difficulty has been to get government involvement in our programs. The same departments would support and are seemingly actively involved in programs run by foreigners.
There have been several mentionable achievements such as being awarded Unique Exporter of the Year and being involved with several pilot projects to do with recycling. WRFL was also the first to offer recycling services to resorts and hotels.
2. What items do you collect, and what happens to them when they reach your depot?
We collect items such as cardboard, plastic, plastic bottles, paper, aluminum cans, glass bottles, tin cans, e-waste, empty toner and printer cartridges and so forth. There is an extensive sorting process that takes places after we have collected the recyclables. For instance, plastic bottles is sorted according to color and different grades. Items are also checked for food residue as there are several overseas quarantine requirements which we need to comply with. We also have to separate actual rubbish from the recyclables before processing.
After sorting, recyclables are compacted into bales. We have several different types of compact machines for different products. These recyclables are then loaded into shipping containers and shipped to overseas recycling facilities.
3. Unfortunately, recyclable items mostly find their way into landfills, or worse, the ocean. In your opinion, how can this be adequately addressed?
I think awareness and support towards recycling work will help. There is also a need to do effective awareness. In the past, whenever we talk about recycling and awareness, especially in schools, the only idea that came out of it was making artifacts with recyclables. Making artifacts with recyclables does not assist in raising awareness on recycling. It just creates more rubbish.
A holistic approach creating awareness at different levels of the community will be of great assistance to save our environment, including the ocean. It will also help educate our people to bring about behavioral change.
4. What setbacks have you faced with stakeholder engagements, and why do you think these exist?
A major setback is just the lack of interest in recycling and what we do. Since we are a private run company, most times government ministries and departments, such as the Department of Environment, discount us as “just another business” rather than an important stakeholder. Our work has not been taken very seriously as we only work with what resources we have available. Government stakeholders need to put more efforts in recognizing our work in order to help facilitate more programs with other stakeholders such aid donors to work with WRFL, help subsidizing costs to make sure we have better resources through government funding programs.
5. A recent gazette mentions a “2019-2020 roadmap to combat recyclables”. What does the near-future hold for Waste Recyclers (Fiji) Ltd, and how can the Pacific Green Business Centre, and other like-minded setups, support you?
WRFL needs a lot of support in terms of awareness building as we do not have the resources to do this. We look forward to working with important stakeholders and key players in ensuring that recyclables get recycled. We also hope that when new initiatives are planned for the recycling industry, there is a lot of consultation with existing companies, especially WRFL who have been here now for over 25 years. We believe government can do much more provided they take interest working with existing companies like WRFL as this will only determine our future.
You can connect with WRFL’s Mr Deo on email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: If you enjoyed reading this Exec Interview you may also enjoy reading our other previous interviews. You can find them here.