Kosrae, FSM, 22 November 2012 - “Our island, our life, our responsibility”, stands out on the signboard outside the shed at the Kosrae state port housing a project which has put the smallest state of the Federated States of Micronesia on the global sustainable development map.
The Kutkut Mwo Materials Recovery Facility is also a good example of a project funded by an external agency, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), handed over to the Kosrae state government, and then leased out to a foreign investor, the Micronesia Eco Corp.
The FSM Forum Compact Peer Review stumbled across the project when they visited Kosrae to consult with the state government from 16 – 20 November.
Maria Gazia Fanelli, a member of the Kosrae Chamber of Commerce is from Italy. She came to Kosrae five years ago on a scuba diving trip but since then stayed on as she found the man of her dreams, Richard Mark Stephens, who runs the Micronesia Eco Divers. The couple now also operate the Pacific Treelodge Resort and the Bully Restaurant in Lelu, Kosrae.
Maria is very compassionate about the environment. She seized the opportunity when the Kutkut Mwo Materials Recovery Facility was put out on tender by the Kosrae state government. She now runs the recycling business under the Micronesia Eco Corp.
The Kosrae state government imposes a deposit fee on the importation of aluminium soft drink cans, plastic containers, bottled drinks and car batteries. The deposit fee collected on these items is put aside to fund the recycling of the items.
Every month, the Micronesia Eco Corp goes around the communities on Kosrae to collect the trash and pay the communities for it. In 2011 the Recycling Facility paid US$85,000 into the community. The year before that the Facility collected 45.6 thousand cubic feet of trash materials and paid US$86,000 into the community.
The trash are taken to the project site at a shed in the Kosrae port area where the cans and plastic containers are flattened and exported together with the discarded car batteries to Korea, China or Hong Kong.
With no market yet for the crashed glass Maria explained: “Glass recycling has a strong impact in the conservation of our environment. Glass is traditionally made from very high quality sand and there, makes an ideal substitute for sand if it is recycled corrected.”
When you are next in Kosrae visit the Bully Restaurant next to the Pacific Treelodge Resort and you will find that you are walking on a glass aggregated concrete walkway to the Restaurant built among the mangrove trees.
“This project contributes strongly to the sustainable development of the island (Kosrae) with its positive economic, sociological and ecological effects,” Maria proudly told members of the FSM Forum Compact Peer Review team when they visited the site of the project.
With the passion for recycling to save the environment very visible on her face, Maria explained: “Money paid to the families for collecting the trash creates a small sub-economy in Kosrae. A cleaner island improves the quality of Kosrae life, our ocean, mangroves and the land is saved from thousands of cubic feet of trash.”
According to Maria, trash collected in Kosrae in one year could fill up to 20 houses.
The Kosrae Recycling Facility has won global recognition after it was among more than 800 environmental projects from 105 nations selected as one of three nominees for the Energy Globe Award in the category Earth, the world award for sustainability, in 2010.
Maria has now taken to the schools on Kosrae to educate the new generation in the state about the benefits of recycling trash. The Facility is now looking at crashing the hundreds of rusting vehicles occupying the limited land in the state and exporting it for recycling. The sky seems to be the limit for this Italian lady that has found her paradise in the northern Pacific.
The Kutkut Mwo Materials Recovery Facility in Kosrae is a clear example of how an eternally funded project requested by a Forum island country is given back to the government who in turn outsources its operation to the private sector for the benefit of the community. It’s a win-win situation for the funding agency, the government, the people, the environment and the private sector.
For media enquiries, contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone: 691 9248325 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Ms Maria Gazia Fanelli, Micronesia Eco Corp in Kosrae, FSM on phone: (691) 3707856/3708828 or email: email@example.com