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Guam EPA hosting Zero Waste Pacific Conference

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Guam is a small island with a population of over 180,000. With that many people according to solid waste management a huge amount of trash is generated. All the more reason why the Guam Environmental Protection Agency will be hosting a Zero Waste Pacific Conference to talk trash.

The agency's administrator, Eric Palacios, said, "It's going to be huge in the sense that we are bringing national and regional experts on zero waste on climate change and on solid waste in general."

Palacios says the conference will provide the community and region with a wealth of knowledge and a slew of best practices from different jurisdictions that our island can adopt and incorporate. "I know that for Micronesian states Palau, FSM, RMI they are looking to come out here and they are excited the possibilities of take-a-ways that the can bring back to their homes and start implementing new activities in the whole solid waste front and zero waste industry," he said.

The conference will also establish a local chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America or SWANA, a nationally recognized and certified organization leading the way in solid waste management and industry. "So just the very nature of bringing them out here establishing a chapter on Guam will benefit our entire region in that it will be cheaper for anyone in our region and from Guam to attend future trainings and obtain future certifications," Palacios said.

This means better service to our community and our constituents. Palacios says the more we build our capacities the real winners will be our island's residents. In regards to zero waste the conference will support the objectives in Governor Eddie Calvo's Zero Waste Plan. "We want to know how we can best implement some of the strategies contained in the plan we want to know how we can make it affordable to implement both from a government stand point as well as affordable from the community stand point," he said.

Palacios says his agency really wants to make it work whether it is in the area of recycling current commodities or expanding Guam's recycling program to accept other items that are not currently  recyclable this includes glass, cardboard and other products. "We want to learn from other people who have walked down this road before us what we can expect and more importantly what to avoid so we don't make the same mistake and suffer the same set back that they did," he said.

Palacios says ultimately the conference will help Guam reach its goal of zero waste in two ways, first as a SWANA certification course focusing on integrated solid waste management, managing recycling facilities and managing composting facilities. This portion is open to individuals who are in the solid waste industry. Palacios also extends a special invitation to the Guam Solid Waste board members. Second is the workshop geared toward the public and youth focusing on furthering the understanding of the environment and how to protect it.

The conference is scheduled to begin on May 4 through the 9th at Hilton. 
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