Pacific Recycling Foundation founder Amitesh Deo says Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s actions where he chose to collect plastic bottles during one of the most difficult periods of his life resonates really well with the work carried out by thousands of Fijians who are involved in informal waste picking to generate income.
Deo said the Rabuka’s decision to collect recyclables when he was finding ways to remain above water has sent a strong message to all the Collection Pillars of Recycling, formerly known as informal waste pickers, that there is relevance in their work.
He said those that collect recyclables to earn a living are often looked down upon, insulted, viewed as vagrants, face limitations in regulations to protect their work and sadly, go through difficulties to obtain basic healthcare and other services.
“The Hon. Prime Minister’s recent post on Facebook detailing his difficult journey, particularly where he mentioned about collecting plastic bottles and that it was difficult but not impossible to live without a pension, gives hope and determination to many Fijians who collect recyclables from public places or dumpsites, and also endure difficult and dangerous conditions with little to no protective equipment.”
Deo said the Prime Minister’s action and message also gives hope to organisations like PRF and Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited who have been advocating for best practices of waste management and recycling, and the need to recognise CPRs for the critical role they play in keeping our environment clean and move them into the formal sector through green jobs.
“We thank the Hon. Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum for joining the movement and look forward to further collaboration with him to enhance the recycling work and PRF’s long-term plans to transit CPRs, in particular women and members of the LGBTQI+ communities involved in waste picking, into formal employment and green jobs in Fiji and the region,” he added.