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Solid waste management solution – Changing its content and context

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Fri, Sept 23. 2011

Editor: Refuse or solid waste can be defined as anything that is rendered useless by its owner and is, therefore, discarded. Considering this description, one needs only to add value to refuse, thereby changing its content and context.{{more}} As a result, it can no longer be refuse, thus aiding in or providing a potential solution to our waste problem.

In the distant past, the volume and nature of refuse generated by the populace allowed for proper management of waste. There were minimal externalities, i.e. negative impact on human health and the ecological system. With today’s increase in population and industrialization, there is a boost in consumption of a wide variety of products and service; and an increase in the manufacturing of materials with extended half-lives. Certainly, within this context, the challenges associated with solid waste management are more profound and, therefore, cannot be ignored. So the important question is: Why are members of our society not adding value to waste and contributing towards a solution to our waste management challenges?

The responsibility falls on all stakeholders to adopt and practise an integrated waste management approach. This strategy is only possible when a culture that advocates “throwing away garbage” is replaced by one that is adaptive and so support changing the context and content of refuse, thereby adding value and reducing the quantity of waste going to the sanitary landfill.

Organic waste such as animal manure remains from cut trees and overgrowth vegetations, and kitchen waste should not be perceived as an annoyance, but rather as the first stage in the nurture of organic food production; in other words, organic fertiliser.

Tires should not be a permitted to become “breeding grounds” for dengue-carrying mosquitoes. Rather, they can be recycled as reef building material or used as a component of road repair material. In short, throwing away resources such as tires, animal excreta, grass, paper, bottles and tins is simply making the nation less wealthy in the end. Potential employment and genius are not tapped, and a myriad of other potential benefits are foregone. It is all our collective loss as a community.

One must support the formal and informal recycling industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Government, community groups, civil society organisations and households all need to play the appropriate and expected roles. Although the industry is a small and unrecognized one, efforts constitute steps in the right direction. Any entity, persons or organisation that collects discarded items to be used in the creation of other products must be highly commended, particularly within the context of local cultural perceptions with regard to solid waste collection.

So, the next time you generate refuse, just think about adding some value to it. Once an item has an added value, it is no longer a waste!

Neri James

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