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Time to talk about recycling

Monday, February 3, 2014

The effort by St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh to urgently debate the Beetham landfill fires under Standing Order 12 was denied by Deputy Speaker Nela Khan on Friday, but it remains a major issue in the public mind. It’s intolerable that Port-of-Spain, the nation’s capital city, should be shrouded in toxic smoke for much of last week. That alone should encourage high level government urgency to address the overdue matter of national waste disposal.


It isn’t even clear whether the agreement by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL) that the Beetham dump should be closed is going to be enforced, since the site remained in use last week by people who were not going to the other two independent entities also on the 200-acre site.


It’s also clear that sending garbage trucks off to the other major dump sites at Guanapo, Forres Park or even Guanapo may solve the immediate problem, but the issues that challenge proper waste disposal in T&T remain both well known and painfully elusive. 



In a perceptive column in Saturday’s Guardian, Paolo Kernahan makes the point that any effort at recycling will ultimately only be successful on a personal level. People must make the decision to separate their waste and to package it properly for any system of recycling rubbish to work. But the state must also play its part in instituting systems that properly support and monetize the process so that the flow of discarded materials is shifted from mounds of garbage into raw materials for reprocessing.