Fri 25th Jul 2014

Illegal dumping of solid waste can cause an outbreak of illness

Illegal dumping of solid waste is a serious problem in SVG. It can cause a dangerous outbreak of illness and is polluting our environment. Almost every week, the Solid Waste Management Unit (SWMU) is on SVGBC TV complaining about the widespread illegal dumping of solid waste, but no solution is put forward.

It is very important that this problem is solved.

A Green government would separate the SWMU from the Central Water Authority to make a new, independent statutory body. The monthly $11 environmental fee would be taken out of the water bill to help poor households and an environmental fee of $11 would be levied on tourists as part of the departure tax.

To protect and preserve our environment, a Green government would place recycling skip units around the country to collect solid waste such as metal, plastic, glass and paper. As in other countries, a system would be set up so that Vincentians could call the SWMU and arrange for the free collection of old white goods such as fridges and washing machines.

It is more cost effective and environmentally beneficial to collect solid waste as above, rather than dealing with the expensive alternative of clearing up polluted areas and illness outbreaks afterwards.

The uncontrolled burning of plastic is a major environmental health hazard. It is associated with extremely harmful pollutants, from carbon monoxide which affects mental function, to dioxins and furans that cause cancer, respiratory illnesses and affect the immune and reproductive system.

A Green government would empower the SWMU to enter into joint venture projects with Vincentian-owned, private businesses to collect and recycle solid waste material. The recycling of plastic, glass, paper and metals, including fridges and washing machines, would be a good opportunity for Vincentians to start a small business and create jobs.

The recycled waste could be exported for money and can help stimulate economic growth. At present, much of this recyclable solid waste material is dumped and valuable metal is being wasted as dumped fridges and washing machines rust away. Economically, it does not make sense and, in this time of high unemployment, initiatives that create jobs and revenue should be developed. This will happen under a Green government.

In 1997, in Gambia, West Africa, The Njau Recycling and Income Generating Group (NRIGG) was set up by six Gambian women to find solutions to devastating problems such as waste management and low income levels in rural Gambia. Today, hundreds of women have been taught the skill of recycling waste and received home composting training to answer a demand for cheap, high quality, organic fertiliser.

NRIGG's members have gained financial freedom and are now able to pay school enrolment fees for their children, buy school supplies, plant/grow vegetables to add nutritional value to family meals, pay for transportation fees in emergency situation, and provide food and clothing for their families.

Recycling in the UK employs thousands and turns over billions of pounds. The fact that the majority of waste in SVG is dumped or put in to landfill, rather than turned in to a recycling industry creating hundreds of jobs for our people, shows that the ULP regime is economically incompetent and lacks vision and innovation.

The current solid waste management system is unsustainable and will lead to our children and grandchildren inheriting a polluted country. SVG needs change; SVG needs a Green government.

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