SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — It has become a familiar refrain at monthly municipal corporation meetings: councillors blasting the State agency responsible for garbage collection.
The criticisms have been particularly strident in the western end of the island, with concerns frequently raised about illegal dump sites. But according to Western Parks and Markets (WPM) Waste Management Limited, residents' tendency to transport and dump their litter across parishes is contributing to the increasing number of garbage dumps.
“In some areas it's worse than others. Persons may be driving and they see a collection of waste on the side of the road, or they see a skip or a holding area somewhere, and that's where they throw their garbage that's in their vehicles,” Dramaine Jones, acting regional operations manager for the WPM, the regional arm of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), told the Jamaica Observer.
This, he said, has undermined systems they have put in place to keep on top of garbage collection. He cited Hermitage, Bethel Town, where the gains made from house-to-house collection of waste generated in the housing scheme have been eroded.
“Since we've started doing house-to-house collections in the housing scheme we have been seeing there is less waste, but there is still waste — which means that persons passing on the main road are depositing waste there, so it becomes a problem for us,” Jones said.
“When we have to stop and clean [dump sites] on the roadside, it takes quite a while to complete a route… We then have waste in other areas not being collected because of [insufficient] time and trucks being filled up because of migrated waste,” he added.
Jones said WPM is hoping to harness social media and work with other State agencies to clear these hurdles.
“We hope to fix some of these issues with sensitisation and, as best as possible, to utilise social media to our advantage in terms of the complaints and responding to them accordingly. We also ensure that we establish partnerships with other agencies such as the Social Development Commission and municipal corporations to ensure that when we speak to these communities, they will liaison with us,” he explained.
He conceded that this would not completely eradicate the illegal dump sites, but the WPM is hoping it will lessen the impact of waste crossing parish boundaries.
“As best as possible we want to reduce the number of illegal dump sites and the size of some of these dump sites. Sensitisation might solve about 70 per cent of the problem. However, the rest is up to each individual as we have to take personal responsibility for waste… It's your community so you have to play a part in keeping it clean as well,” he stressed.
He said the agency has partnered with entities such as Sandals Resorts International and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority to assist residents with composting.
“Persons have to also start looking at the fact that, while you're depositing your waste, you also need to be concerned with what happens to the environment and also the impact that it has. The sensitisation won't fix everything, but we think that's a start,” Jones said.
— Daina Davy