Story and photos by Makeida Antonio
A regional project aimed at reducing dumpsite waste that was postponed due to Covid-19 has finally been implemented in Antigua and Barbuda.
The hope is that, with green waste such as garden cuttings making up around half of all garbage dumped at the Cooks Sanitary Landfill, the move will drastically reduce the mountains of trash and improve general waste management practices.
Consultants on the project, including Brian McCarthy from the Resource and Waste Advisory (RWA) Group, have been engaged and lent support by establishing a pilot project which seeks to introduce the concept of source segregation where households separate green waste from regular waste and its collection and composting.
According to officials and consultants, green waste poses numerous challenges for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by contributing to landfill fires. Tree branches, shrub clippings and dried leaves take up space and leave room for oxygen at the landfill so when waste begins to decompose, oxygen and other gases can cause spontaneous combustion which can affect residential areas.
Improper waste management can change the environment because chemicals in everyday products like cars, sofa sponges, burning of green waste, batteries, phones and non-stick frying pans can create noxious fumes when burned.
General Manager at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Daryl Spencer encouraged residents to begin waste management at home. During his brief remarks at the project’s launch yesterday, he indicated that the effort should not solely be carried out by government.
Additionally, officials reported that 102 tons of green waste go to the landfill every day. They want the public to understand that if green waste is reduced, the remaining waste can be further compacted to manage the likelihood of spontaneous combustion by squeezing out the oxygen.
Minister of Health, Wellness and Environment Molwyn Joseph said that compost and wood chips, which are usually imported, can be created using the green waste dumped at Cooks. He advised that residents should separate green waste from other waste being processed at the compost facility.
The manufactured compost will be tested for safety before going into garden products for sale and this is just one of the implementable measures taken from documents prepared by consultants.
The project entitled “GEF 5558: Development and Implementation of a Sustainable Management Mechanism for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Eight Caribbean Countries” is being facilitated by the NSWMA in collaboration with the Basel Convention Regional Centre for training and technology transfer for the Caribbean Region (BCRC Caribbean), the Department of Analytical Services, and the United Nations Environment.