With the risk of the Guanapo Landfill becoming unusable within a year, the Solid Waste Management Co Ltd (SWMCOL) is now restricting industrial and commercial waste from the site.
Companies that usually dispose of their waste in the landfill now have to go further to other SMWCOL sites.
Earlier this month, Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales revealed that the Forres Park, Beetham and Guanapo landfills had reached capacity.
However, SWMCOL CEO Kevin Thompson told Guardian Media that Guanapo was at a critical level, adding that the site, which began as a valley, was now a mountain. Therefore, SWMCOL published a public notice advising that the landfill will no longer accept industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) waste from October 31. ICI waste refers to refuse from businesses, large industries and institutions, including construction and demolition trash.
Thompson said SWMCOL’s primary role is to cater to residential waste, which Guanapo will continue to accept.
“We are trying to preserve that residential collection for the burgesses of Arima and its environs. To do that, we have decided that additional waste, industrial and commercial from Arima and environs, need to be transported elsewhere so that we do not inconvenience the general public,” Thompson said.
SWMCOL felt that because there is a small number of industrial and commercial customers in the area, it was better the changes affected them instead of residents.
Thompson believes that because those customers also provide services to the population, they would understand the decision. But the mitigation strategy is temporary.
Thompson said landfills are not bottomless pits and the Guanapo Landfill will need to stop taking waste at some point. Once it does in the coming years, SWMCOL will implement its waste remediation plan. It has accepted funding from the UN’s Global Environmental Facility for this.
In the meantime, SWMCOL is conducting preliminary studies for an engineered landfill at Forres Park, Claxton Bay.
However, Thompson said T&T needs an overall behaviour change, as it dumps too much waste, oftentimes in areas not specified for dumping. As such, SWMCOL has relaunched its Charlie campaign to sensitise the public on waste disposal. But he says SWMCOL needs to meet with its commercial and industrial customers about reducing waste.
The Ministry of Public Utilities has hosted private and public consultations on updating the Integrated Solid Waste Management Policy, National Waste Recycling Policy and beverage container refund policy. Thompson, however, said while an overall recycling framework from the Government is necessary, everyone needs to take action.