A developer of commercial properties across the Maldives is hoping a new cleanup scheme launched this week on the island of Hulhumale’ will not just put a positive shine on its corporate social responsibility, but also provide bins and a boost to waste management in the country.
As part of a joint property development venture between Pruska and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) on the North Male’ Atoll island, 40 public bins have been donated as part of a promotional cleanup programme called I Love Hulhumale’.
The programme saw a number of public and private groups working together alongside Pruska–HDC on Sunday (December 5) to attempt to clean the island of waste discarded onto the surrounding streets and beaches.
Although only six of the donated bins have as yet been placed around Hulhumale’s commercial units in the neighbourhood one area, Ahmed Varish, Senior Marketing Officer for the HDC, said that the joint venture hopes to pursue further possible waste management and recycling schemes around the island alongside its future construction developments.
While some local environmental organisations have praised the joint venture’s work to try and set up a network of bins for public use, they claimed that there is generally insufficient local management knowhow and expertise to deal with refuse in a sustainable and environmental manner.
With President Mohamed Nasheed having committed to the much publicised goal of making the Maldives a carbon neutral nation by 2020, waste management is one potential key focus of a national master plan set to be unveiled early next year focused on becoming a sustainable economy.
Varish told Minivan News that Pruska-HDC accepted that the wider national impacts of supplying bins was not a complete solution for preventing litter; yet the company said it hoped to ensure cleaner streets for current and future residents of the island at the very least.
“We don’t believe bins alone are enough [to clean up Hulhumale’]”, he said. “We need to educate more and get the message out to the population to take responsibility for the environment.”
However, Varish said that the bins were an attempt by the joint-venture company to try and ensure the all round environment looked cleaner for both its future customers and the public at large.
According to the HDC, the six public bins that have been donated are emptied and sent to the island’s waste dump everyday. The full 40 units will eventually be spread across Hulhumale’ in the future.
Varish claimed that previous attempts to try and establish public bins on Hulhumale’ two and a half years ago had resulted in their theft by members of the public. Nonetheless, the company said it had planned to “fix each of the bins to the ground” to prevent similar setbacks to its own green commitments, which may include similar clean up campaigns being launched alongside the opening of a number of its new property developments during the next few months.
Varish said that HDC, which is currently constructing commercial residences on six islands in the Maldives, had no plans to extend the donation of public bins to any of these other destinations. He added that the group was looking at the possibilities in the future of extending into recycling schemes though planned collaborations that were currently being considered.
Ali Rilwan, Executive Director of local environmental NGO Bluepeace, told Minivan News that he believed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives being carried out in the Maldives, which were generally being conducted by resorts, “were more for publicity.”
Rilwan said that he was nonetheless generally “very encouraged” by schemes to provide public bins in the Maldives by groups such as the Pruska–HDC joint venture in Hulhumale’. Yet despite this encouragement, he said that a greater need for authorities to spend more on litter collection and street cleaning in the country needed to be matched by business, particularly among some soft drink and bottle water groups that operate there.
“Government funds alone will not help with the country’s waste management issues,” Rilwan added.
When questioned whether there was a need and demand for public bins in Maldivian society, Bluepeace’s Executive Director claimed that in certain areas of the capital of Male’, there were indications of public concern about a lack of amenities to store waste beyond just discarding them in the streets.
“If you look at Male’ there aren’t any bins, yet people can be seen putting their cans near trees as authorities have not come up with preferable facilities,” he said.
With upcoming local council elections now scheduled for February, Rilwan stressed hope that issues of littering, waste handling and environmental legislation may become important points of discussion for candidates looking to secure votes.
Yet amidst hopes of a publically-driven political consensus on stepping up action and investment in more sustainable waste management within the Maldives, Rilwan said he believes that awareness and management were just as vital a resource in dealing with trash efficiently.
“After the tsunami, we had groups like the Canadian and Australian Red Cross spending millions of dollars on building waste management centres,” he said. “There are now 80 centres on 74 island, but very few of these are functioning, the awareness of how to use them has to be there.”