Solid waste management in Papua New Guinea

Second Seven landfill in Lae

This research covers two PNG cities, Port Moresby (POM) and Lae. POM has a population of 650,000+ and Lae has 200,000+. Both cities expect rapid population growth (due to urban drift) and economic boom (due to gas, oil and mineral projects), and therefore the level of waste generation and management is becoming a real concern.

The waste management in both cities is managed by local government authorities: Lae City Council (LCC) and National District Capital Commission (NCDC) through their Waste Divisions. Waste management systems in both cities do exist. However, both authorities experience poor management standards, insufficient funding (resources) and no policy/strategy guidelines.

The landfills in POM (Baruni Dump) and Lae (Second Seven) practice open burning of waste, causing huge pollution to surrounding environment. This practice has become a serious health and environmental concern to the public.

Baruni Dump landfill in Port Moresby – open burning of wasteInstitutional issues

The National Government of PNG has no SWM strategy or regulation or law to manage waste in the country. The waste management authorities in both cities use the the 1973 Public Health Act, the 2000 Environment Act and their own bi-laws. The Public Health Act was passed to manage medical waste while the Environment Act was passed to manage industrial waste. This implies that there is no specific act in SWM. Both authorities enforce these laws with minimal compliance and no performance monitoring. This is reflected in both cities in which waste of all types are found anywhere.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has initiated the upgrading of Baruni landfill in POM at the cost of PGK2.5 million through technical support. The upgrading of the facility will cost PGK10 million (PGK1 million from NCDC and PGK9 million from PNG National Government). The National Department of Environment and Conservation approved the project, which is yet to start.

Second Seven landfill in LaeThe LCC has made a funding proposal to Cairns City Council, Australia, for possible funding assistance but this is yet to be approved. The rehabilitation work on the Second Seven landfill will cost about PGK11 million. The project will come in three components; a feasibility study, research and documentation – PGK1.5 million; construction of the facility and procurement of equipment – PGK8 million; and training and management – PGK1.5 million.

Technical issues

The waste generation in both cities is expected to increase in the future given high population growth and the economic boom. Waste generation trends are challenging and becoming a real concern for PNG.

A bout 60kg of medical waste per day is incinerated within the hospital premises. The fumes from the incinerator cause huge pollution affecting nearby city residents. In POM, the incinerator is down so all medical waste are buried at a designated landfill near the hospital. The burying of the waste is of high health and environmental risk.

In POM, NCDC provides standard waste bins to certain institutions like schools and hospitals while residents provide their own bins. In Lae both institutions and residents pay for their own bins.

Both cities engage contractors to collect waste and dispose of it at the landfills. The contractors use their own resources like trucks, tipper trucks, compactors, bulldozer and labour. In both cities, waste management system involves collection and disposing. There is no waste transfer and treatment.

Financial issues

The waste collection in POM is funded by the NCDC. The annual waste budget for 2012 is PGK10.4 million. Funding is sourced through commission’s internal revenue sources like land tax, licensing fees and garbage tariffs (e.g., residential garbage fee is PGK33.68 per month). All payments are made in cash at the revenue counter, involving no bank transactions.

LCC funds waste collection in Lae. The annual waste budget for 2012 was PGK0.5 million. The funding is sourced through the council’s internal revenue of about PGK8 million. About 80 percent of council’s revenue is collected from internal sources like land tax, licensing fees, and garbage tariffs (e.g.; household garbage fee is PGK36.00 per month for high covenant residential areas). The other 20 percent comes from provincial government grants. The council has a high rate of tariff and fee collection (80 percent), all payments are made in cash and bank deposit to a council account.

In both cities, legal actions and other penalties are enforced for non-payments of tariffs, fees, taxes and other charges.

Public awareness

Public awareness and education is the key tool to address SWM issues in PNG. The Bank South Pacific (BSP) is the only corporate body that does public awareness on waste management in the country. The Bank has a public awareness program known as “Go Green” with the aim to educate people to be responsible for their own waste like placing rubbish in the bins. BSP rolls its “Go Green” campaign nationwide through its branches at the cost of over PGK3 million per year. The program is part of its social obligation to the community. BSP conducts awareness in schools and communities. The bank also provides funding and logistical support to community and institutional groups that are willing to collect rubbish. The “Go Green” campaign is also going on in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Niue where the BSP has branches.

The BSP initiative has not had much effect so far. The “Go Green” campaign only targets urban areas (below 15 percent of the population), and still there is a huge need in public awareness for rural majority. Even in the cities, evident of the waste on the ground is abundant.


The main issues identified during the research are as follows:

  • There are few public awareness programs or initiatives.
  • There is no regulatory framework or legislation on solid waste management.
  • There is a lack of adequate funding and resources.

Solid waste management is a neglected area in PNG. It needs to be taken much more seriously.

Thomas Wangi is a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Papua New Guinea. This post is based on his talk (podcast available here and powerpoint here) to the 2013 Pacific and PNG Update, and is based on research undertaken by him for the ADB.

image_pdfDownload PDF

Thomas Wangi

Thomas Wangi is a PhD candidate in economics at Crawford School of Public Policy and a Research Fellow at the PNG National Research Institute. He holds a Master of Economics from James Cook University.


  • I am a concerned student and I have been working hard on this proposal for a waste management project in my dads village and cant get any support from the Central Provincial Government funding’s, IDG,DSIP,PSIP. So as high tide bringing the huge amount of waste into the village/community. Your project to convert waste to energy is really interesting.
    Keep up the good work!!
    Morea Morris Hitolo
    Central Province

  • We need collaborate efforts by all professionals for this issue. A waste audit should be thoroughly carried out for both cities to ascertain what’s lacking. Both policy and regulatory frameworks have to be revised and relooked to properly address SWM.

  • Wastes are inevitable and i as person believe if we start making awareness by telling everyone around the country to manage their waste individually by starting from their homes would reflect better living standard. Also looking for better ways to manage and dispose waste like recycling.

  • Waste management in our homes, communities, Provinces and PNG as a whole needs collective effort. First of all, it has to start from home…

    • But again in most homes parents are not properly educated to teach their children on the benefits of having a clean environment. I reckon that the best approach would be educating (through awareness) the general public, this includes all age groups.

  • Waste is an ongoing issue in the city and our towns. There is a need for a specific waste management law. The government needs to support the Local Level Governments through annual funds for Waste Management. All towns depends on revenue to keep waste collection services going which is not enough. That’s why we see garbage not collected and piled or scattered along roadside, streets etc. The government has to prioritize this to save our future.

  • Why is the PNG government ignorant in investing in green waste technology?
    Why won’t a technologically competitive firm that is environmentally concerned manage waste disposal?

    Such firms would turn trash to cash and protect the environment!

  • Solid waste management is truly a concern in these two cities and other centers as well. Really uncontrolled waste disposal is becoming a norm in everywhere and Port Moresby is already being affected by this.

  • 150 tons of garbage per day from Port Moresby can be converted in to 500 KW Power per Hour and the investment is just about €600,000. Amny business person interested in setting up thios project may contact and i will explain all the aspects of the project.

    Best wishes,

  • Thomas, be aware that Australian Aid established an Australia compliant toxic waste disposal system at Baruni post JICA in order to be able to dispose of asbestos waste while satisfying DFAT’s regulatory requirements. It consists of a designed, surveyed and marked progressive pit with a 10 year fill lifespan meeting Australian requirements plus some model paperwork for the recording of it designed to be adopted by the Council. Maybe it has already been ignored but if anyone were interested maybe I could supply details. Insisting on using it might help reinforce local practice. We looked at something similar in Lae but the situation there was so bad we decided it was impossible to safely dispose dangerous wastes, any efforts to do so would be ignored, the recovery reds lost and our asbestos would shortly be disinterred in ignorance when the land was redeveloped for something else.

    • I think that it is best the government as well as a corporate house and all of the citizens must work together to implement this design. As our vision 2050 aims to have a healthy population then.
      However I am interested about the design

    • Hi Jeremy, please share the details of the model paperwork if possible. I’m just interested to know what efforts our two major cities have already done so far. Solid waste management needs a collective effort from all of us, and a vibrant awareness campaign and key messages on environmental impact at all levels is paramount at this stage. PNG needs to wake up to the effects of climate change on all fronts.

  • Solid Waste Management is truly a concern in these two cities and other centers as well. If only we have a good management system with substantive regulations on SWM and strict compliance, then I think we will at least avoid all these problems.

  • For places outside of POM and Lae where the LLG are in charge of waste removal – are there any laws prohibiting private companies from doing domestic and corporate waste removal?

  • To improve the current situation we need to focus on the following three;

    1. A system of laws/regulations, policies, management (planning, budget, resource, implementation) and continuous improvement
    2. Persistent awareness and campaigns, targeting schools and institutions, and individuals
    3.legislation that can be

  • Dennis,

    As part of my final year thesis for my My Major Research Paper, I’m interested in writing about the need for a more viable and proactive National policy approach on the subject on Municipal solid waste management, given that NCD is the first to pioneer with its waste management policy. Would really appreciate your input on the viability on other alternative waste management practices that is cost-effective in the long run as well as environmentally friendly, such as the project that you are initiating. i can be reached on my email

    kind regards


  • Proper waste segregation should start in our homes. Sadly, it has become so impossible for most of us. Waste management is now a big problem especially if we speak about environmental issues.

  • Really uncontrolled waste disposal is becoming a norm in everywhere and Port Moresby is already being affected by this. Plastics and other wastes are dump everywhere without properly disposed off in the designated location. Hope something has to be done to educate our city residents to properly managed unnecessary dumping of was

  • Thomas and Peter,

    Iam working on a project to convert waste to energy in Port Moresby.Should you have any info/data related to rate of waste dump at Baruni dump, please let me know.


    • Hi Dennis,

      Your project to convert waste to energy sounds very interesting. I have been doing research on waste management and in particular garbage removal in Port Moresby and astounded by the lack of a policy and limited support or support that is taking forever. Look forward to hearing more on your project soon. Keep up the good work. I also have some ideas of addressing the problem, starting small and getting traction to upscale and address the bigger issue. All the very best. Now that JICA is already working on the Baruni Landfill feasibility that should at least pave the way for better dumping but the heart of the problem lies with each of us being responsible at home, as a start to having a healthy city and environment.

  • Uncontrolled waste disposal in our towns and cities poses threat on the nation’s health and economy. No national strategic framework to regulate and monitor such calls for immediate action. No wonder mining take advantage of this by crafting colourings on their risk management plans by extracting few statements from Environmental Act and Public Health Act.

    Thomas, post me if you or others had done researches on this. I promote waste-free environment.

    Peter Maima

    • Peter you are still active on waste mangement n need champions to collaborate wiyh you in LAE or POM.
      Kindly get intouch.
      Vinaka n God Bles

Leave a Comment