HARBOUR VIEW–Resume cooperation with the French side and pursue an integrated waste management system, not a waste-to-energy facility for the country is recommendation from the Social Economic Council SER in an unsolicited advice published in the National Gazette on Friday.
The Council, which has called on Government in the past to address the country’s landfill emergency, penned its advice in December 2016. “The present challenges of the Pond Island landfill are critical and urgent. These problems go beyond party politics and should not be attributed to the past, present and/or future government(s),” said SER. Tackling the landfill is a concern for everyone in the community and should not be viewed as a political issue, according to the Council. SER called on Government to adopt an integrated waste management system similar to the French side that is focused on waste minimization, reuse, recycle and covering issues related to the health and ecology of the landfill. This approach would be better and less burdensome on taxpayers, SER believes, as the quoted price in 2010 for a waste-to-energy plant was in the area of US $115 million.
Another recommendation is to start, with immediate effect, separating the various waste streams on the landfill with the aim to sell various waste-stream products. This includes the efficient sorting of the garbage such as the removal of recyclable and toxic materials. Management plans should ideally encompass operational requirements with appropriate guidelines/standards, including capacity building and regular monitoring against fires, said SER.Government is urged by SER to start a public awareness campaign to promote reduction of waste at household and community levels. Waste reduction should include use of clean technologies, reuse, separation and recycling. SER encouraged Government to immediately resume and renew the cooperation between the municipality of Amsterdam and St. Maarten for mainly the exchange of knowledge and experience in the areas of waste management and environment. This agreement expires on October 16, 2017. Amsterdam, based on its working relationship with St. Maarten, officially offered to dispose at least 50 per cent of the present landfill. This offer would significantly aid Government in disposal of existing waste, SER pointed out.
Government should update legal framework for waste management in line with international standards, and place more focus on enforcement measures, said SER. Government should also incorporate best practices from the Dutch Kingdom and adopt European Union/international standards in waste management. By doing so, the locally separated products will be compatible with these markets. An Environmental Sustainability ranking the Caribbean in 2014 established that as a Caribbean country, an alarming rate of waste is generated on the island. Research has shown that St. Maarten has the highest municipal solid waste of the Caribbean that is generated in kilogrammes per capita per day which is: 9.7 kilogrammes. This is for a country that has limited land space to create a new or second landfill location. With the exception of 2015, the government spends an average of NAf. 2.4 million on the management of the landfill. Although SER is an advisory body to Government, the Council of Ministers is not bound to follow the recommendations in the letter titled ““Better Waste Management for St. Maarten.”