Landfills May Soon Be A Thing of The Past in T&T. Change Is Coming.

Landfills May Soon Be A Thing of The Past in T&T. Change Is Coming.

Camille Robinson-Regis

All waste landfills in Trinidad and Tobago are likely to be closed down and replaced with modern, scientific methods of waste capture and disposal. This according to Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis, who made the disclosure  at a forum on approaches to sustainable integrated waste and chemicals management hosted by the Basel Convention Regional Centre (BCRC–Caribbean).’

She said the plan will be centred on a nationwide waste recycling project, which has already been initiated by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

The minister noted the many challenges faced in the current system of waste collection and disposal, among these:

• an  inefficient solid waste collection and disposal system

• A non-existent hazardous waste treatment facility

• Fixed landfills that are either already at, or bordering on the point of saturation

• Increasing incidence of indiscriminate disposal by the population characterised by poor levels of environmental consciousness

• A heavy industrial base

• A growing population with an evolving waste configuration as factors giving rise to issues of public health hazards, disease manifestation, wildlife threats and environmental degradation in Trinidad and Tobago.

Citing the Final Report of the Trinidad Solid Waste Program’s Waste Characterization and CENTROID Study (2010), Minister Robinson-Regis underlined that the main household waste streams consist of organic material (27.15%), plastics (19.17%), paper (18.77%) and glass (10.15%), and because there is no segregation of waste in households even the recyclable wastes are destined to the almost filled to capacity landfills located in Guanapo, Beetham and Claxton Bay.

As of 2010, with a population of 1.3 million inhabitants, Trinidad and Tobago had a waste generation rate of 700,000 tonnes on an annual basis, or 1.5 kilograms per capita per day

It is estimated that by 2020, the country will be generating 1.4 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per year at this rate.

The plan will involve:

•         Closure and rehabilitation of both the Beetham and Gunapo sites;

•         Upgrading of the Forres Park Landfill to international standards; containment of waste and waste by-products, underpinned by strategies to promote waste prevention and minimisation at the source;

•         Diversion of waste from the landfills;

•         Capture and recovery of materials for the productive economy which includes re-use, recycling and gathering energy from waste;

•         Strengthening the policy, legislative, institutional and regulatory frameworks for waste management;

•         And public education and enforcement on sustainable waste practices such as waste prevention and minimisation, re-use and recycling.