THIS country is ready to begin recycling and Wednesday is the day being looked at for recyclables, said Solid Waste Management Company (SWMCOL) general manager, communication, David Manswell.
He was speaking yesterday at the Joint Select Committee (JSC) Finance and Legal Affairs meeting with representatives of SWMCOL, Planning Ministry and Public Utilities Ministry.
JSC member Taharqa Obika asked how far the country was from the separation of waste in homes.
Manswell said a pilot project was launched in the Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation and had been done in support of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) iCARE recycling programme. He said there was great support for the initiative and two other regional corporations had also come on board.
He reported that in the new municipal contracts the population will be advised when to place their recyclables at the curb and Wednesdays are being considered for this. He said a model had been implemented, has been working and SWMCOL can see it going throughout the country.
Ministry of Public Utilities Permanent Secretary Beverly Khan said the ministry has started to encourage separation of recyclables at the workplace, starting with seven ministries, with plans to extend into commercial banks and the Central Bank.
JSC chairman Sophia Chote asked about the country’s management of waste and Planning Ministry Permanent Secretary Marie Hinds said Government was reviewing the National Environmental Policy to tighten up strategies and also pointed out the EMA had launched its iCARE recycling programme.
EMA managing director Hayden Romano said the iCARE project was to prepare the country for the passage of the EMA waste rules and the only outstanding rule in the suite of the Environmental Management Act which it expected would be enacted in 2019. He added the country is moving towards a recycling culture, but culture change will take some time.
On the iCARE project, he said the one thing it had not been doing was monitoring, and the EMA was now putting a framework and setting goals and this should happen in the next three months. Roach was also asked about fires at the Beetham landfill. He responded that it requires $120 million to cover the waste with soil at the three sites – Beetham, Guanapo and Forres Park –but because of SWMCOL’s subvention the company is not able to do this and there are exposed areas which can catch fire, especially in the dry season. There was also the issue of people rummaging through the garbage and setting fires to burn plastic around copper products. He noted there was a major fire in 2014 and since that time SWMCOL had made improvements in reducing the incidence of fires.
Roach was also asked about the disposal of medical waste and he said the major hospitals would follow proper procedures, but there are a lot of small medical institutions, and at times there was biomedical waste hidden among other waste and which is buried with other waste.
Roach also reiterated this country was not the highest waste-producing country in the developing world, and this was incorrectly reported by the World Bank, which divided the waste by the population of Port of Spain only and came up with an astronomical figure. He reported the waste was 1.5 kg per capita, which was average, and Barbados, for example, was significantly higher.
He stressed as a society TT produces a lot of waste and as a consumer society a lot of finished goods are imported and packaging waste was quite high.