The effects of landfills has caused increased challenges of Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) and made it one of the most pressing environmental issue at a local, national, regional and international level, MSWM is a very costly and complex process usually under the guidance of the local governments who may sometimes lack the expertise, tools and manpower necessary to meet targets and implement national strategies. T.V. Sivanandan of The Hindu states that effective MSWM requires an ongoing commitment from central government, adequate budget allowances and a highly motivated workforce.
In the Caribbean and Latin America over the last decade a significant increase in landfills has been reported. Land filling is usually the main treatment for municipal solid waste (MSW), mainly because it’s cost effective and accommodates all types of waste, but is far more potent than any other method because of its adverse environmental impact, which includes methane gas emission, pollution of groundwater and surface waters and leachate that represents one of the main sources of environmental problems linked to land filling waste not to mention taking up valuable space.
The Ground Water Foundation claims that the waste generated in a country is closely linked to its economic activities, the wealthier an economy the more waste is produced. Waste management have become a critical issue in the Caribbean because of limited land mass and decreasing resources along with a rapidly growing population and recent boosts in the tourism industry making MSWM an issue needing urgent attention in this region.
Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited studies have shown that 80% in Trinidad and 70% in Tobago of total waste generated are recyclable but currently land filled, the current and only method of final MSW disposal along with inappropriate dumping employed by residents to dispose of uncollected waste causing recurring floods countrywide as a result of blocked drains along with other adverse effects to the environment, with average waste generated per person in T&T is 4lbs per day, resulting in 1000 tonnes of waste taken to landfills daily, there are four landfills located in Trinidad and Tobago all of which was developed in the 1980’s and are either near or have exceed lifespan.
The main landfill is the Beetham Landfill reaching its capacity in a few years, the Government of the Republic of T&T now seeks an alternative methods or another landfill site for final disposal of MSW in this small twin island Republic, hence the increasing need for us to introduce recycling, there are still a great deal of waste that could be recycled ending up in landfill sites. Recycling is one of the best things we can personally do for the environment and is an excellent way of protecting our precious natural resources, cutting global warming and conserving the environment through water and energy conservation. The fact is we cannot stop global warming, deforestation and all the other ills of the earth without each citizen taking an active step to implement the waste hierarchy of prevention, reuse, recycling and treatment of waste in our daily life.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is now taking active steps to encourage and initiate reduce, reuse and recycle mechanism, this is pending the establishment of a Waste Recycling management Authority, which would facilitate Plastikeep’s transition into a large waste recovery and recycling programme to be instituted by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), an Authority created in 1996 to provide a comprehensive and integrated framework for protecting, conserving and enhancing the environment of Trinidad and Tobago. This will alleviate the existing burden on landfills and revolutionize citizen’s approach to waste disposal as this arrangement would provide a efficient and cost effective implementation of an integrated system for recycling material such as waste tyres, construction, plastic, glass, paper, metal, electronic waste.
This initiative will begin the process of residents taking responsibility for the way waste is viewed in Trinidad and Tobago, in a modern manner.