Solid waste management (SWM) is a major issue in the world and will continue to be so for a long time because as economies begin to expand allowing humans to purchase more than they need, it seems impossible to curb the rapid production of waste without developing and implementing strict laws and regulations to govern and control this destructive habit we have developed but more than just laws and regulations, today our societies demand more since they want to ensure that we develop in a way which meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
The concerns of our future caused an increased urgency to address the problems of our environment in managing the production and disposal of waste that brought about International agreements such as:
The Montreal Protocol
The Ozone Layer protects humans, shield animals and marine food chain from 90% of the sun’s harmful Ultraviolet rays. As a result of the drastic depletion of the earth’s protective ozone layer over the Antarctic 25 years ago, The Montreal Protocol was agree upon on 16 September 1987 and went effective in January 1989; this agreement was developed to address the issue of Ozone Layer depletion, by reducing the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances which would alternately result in the protection of our rapidly depleting ozone layer, this also addressed the issue of greenhouse gases that contribute to the radioactive forcing of Climate Change.
The EU and 167 other states have since ratified Montreal Protocol. Kofi Annan stated, “this is the UN’s most successful agreement to date”. New York Times says that this agreement is a “highly successful international treaty for phasing out 97 per cent of 100 ozone-depleting chemicals especially after the Chlorofluorocarbons gas used as refrigerants in cooling systems was eliminated under this agreement”. NASA scientist states “Thanks to internationally-agreed reductions in CFC emissions after the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (with its many subsequent amendments), global ozone is expected to recover to pre-1980 levels in the 2nd half of the 21st century” (NASA, 2009).
The Stockholm Agreement
Urgent calls from the international community to take affirmative action to reduce Persistent Organic Pollutants, poisonous chemicals that risk human health and the environment is what brought about the Stockholm Agreement which was agreed December 2000 and became effect in 2004 mandating the fifty nations that ratified this agreement to develop an action plan and implement within two years after ratifying to be reviewed every five years after implementation. This action plan sets out strict legal controls to identify, characterise and address the twelve persistent organic pollutants officially registered by the UNEP, the agreement also outlined steps to promote educate and train citizens to enhance awareness.
This agreement was seen as a unique opportunity to create significant changes in environmental, occupational and food policies; The Stockholm Agreement was also hailed as “a global public health Treaty”.
The Basel Convention on Control of Trans boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
With the dramatic increase in hazardous waste from five (5) million metric tonnes in 1947 to three hundred (300) million metric tonnes in 1988 in the United States of America and Western Europe alone and pressing demands for tough restrictions, came about the Basel Convention which was recommended by one hundred and sixteen nations and signed in 1989 to regulate the movement of Hazardous Waste across international borders. Developing countries were being used as dumping ground for Hazardous Waste and their Disposal, the effects of tightened environmental laws of the developed nations in the 1970’s. These environmental laws resulted in a drastic increases of the disposal cost and at the same time reducing the sites available for disposing hazardous waste.
The main objective of this convention is to reduce generation of hazardous waste, reduce waste transported between borders and encourage environmentally friendly management of hazardous waste.
In 2011 centres were open under The Basel Convention in Trinidad and Tobago, China, Nigeria, Indonesia and Argentina and nine others to provide training and technology transfer regarding managing Hazardous Wastes.
The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol was said to be the first real step towards curtailing greenhouse warming, it clearly addresses a particular environmental problem threatening mankind . United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in their efforts to implement an International Policy to decrease CO emission adopted the Kyoto protocol in 1997 and stipulated USA, China and Europe to reduce emission of global warming by 7, 8 and 6% respectively. The successes of the Kyoto Protocol worldwide is partial, since it is not yet ratified by the United States of America, which currently has an CO emission increasing yearly by 0.5% and 3.2% between 2009-2010 and most of the world’s developing nations do not have limitation targets and are not obligated to undertake quantitative emission reduction stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol.
To date the most outstanding success of the Kyoto Protocol is the announcement by the Brazilian government its intentions to reduce their CO emission of 36% by year 2020, this is a clear indication that the Brazilian government understands the direct effect CO emissions has on our future.
In most Caribbean countries waste management legislation is not a highly ranked public policy. Waste management is often an issue competing with other economic and social issues like poverty, unemployment, health, education and crime.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes that solid waste management policies and regulation is an area needing urgent attention across all waste streams within the country, which lead to the development of an Integrated Waste Management Policy. The main waste streams identified by the government are; hazardous, municipal solid waste, Industrial, e waste, plastic and organic and agricultural waste . Currently, there are few laws enforced to govern and regulate the waste listed above in Trinidad and Tobago.
The main legislation that seek to affect solid waste management is the Draft Integrated Waste Management Policy, with the main goal of developing and implementing an Integrated Solid Waste Management strategy that creates sustainability by combining socio-cultural, environmental and economic elements and encouraging waste prevention, minimization, promoting awareness and involvement of the public and private stakeholders, a forward approach in the solid waste management of Trinidad and Tobago.
POSTED BY: NAZINA BELLE
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