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NSWMA unhappy with lack of buy-in to recycle solid waste

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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HEAD of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Audley Gordon says he is deeply concerned that the appeals for Jamaicans to recycle their solid waste has not resonated with the citizenry.
“I'm expressing my own disappointment that our communication has not gotten [enough] traction. I don't think the message to reuse, reduce and recycle, a message that has pre-dated me, has not gone anywhere. People are not buying in as you would expect. I really want the conversation to be around that Government can always buy more trucks but ultimately we can't keep dumping resources, like garbage. I think the conversation that we've been having about garbage needs to shift; we should be talking every day about how to collect the whole heap of garbage,” he stated.
Gordon noted, for example, that the large volume of material such as trees and grass that is cut and included for collection could be composted and reused in home gardens, or transformed into a productive community enterprise.
The NSWMA executive director said he hopes the enterprise team that is now handling the proposed divestment of the island's dumps will conclude its work soon, as he expects that these concerns will be resolved with divestment. “This will then free us up to become regulators of the solid waste industry in Jamaica. So I am anxiously awaiting the report of the enterprise team, so that we can really begin to move the trash to cash,” Gordon said.
The enterprise team was set up in October 2016 to manage the privatisation of the island's disposal sites, and an undertaking was given by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in August last year that the enterprise team charged with identifying an investor should have its work completed by this month.
In the meantime, Gordon said the NSWMA is ramping up its structure to become “regulator ready”.
“We are doing the studies of different regulatory entities; we are putting in the necessary policies, transforming the agency into a modern, well-run corporate office with strict adherence to the corporate governance framework,” he said.
Gordon said efforts were underway to reduce solid waste build-up in informal communities along the banks of gullies, and to outfit major town centres with receptacles. He explained that the plan is to recruit wardens in informal communities to collect and move garbage to accessible points where NSWMA units can access. “This will in large measure prevent so many things from going into gullies when it rains, so it will remove the excuse of people dumping into gullies,” he explained.
At the same time, Gordon appealed for patience from residents in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine who are experiencing delays with collection, explaining that the pile-up is mainly due to the persistent rainfall over the past month.
He explained that damage to interior roads at the Riverton City disposal site has also aggravated the situation, prolonging turnaround time for trucks and creating general delays in the collection system. He emphasised, however, that efforts are being made to resolve the problem, including night collections.
Gordon again urged persons to properly containerise their garbage to prevent trucks from having to spend extended periods at one location as this also creates a backlog in the system.
“If it is detained in the community and it reaches the disposal site late, then it means we can't get the two trips per day which is needed if we are to adequately serve the million-plus residents in the areas (Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine), so we ask people to containerise their garbage so that when we come we can just take it up and move,” he said.
Gordon further explained that trucks spend a significant amount of time delayed in traffic. He said this is an unavoidable challenge, which has worsened as traffic woes around the Kingston Metropolitan Region is no longer restricted to traditional peak hours.


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