The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) will be ramping up efforts this year to keep the country clean and safeguard public health.
Executive Director of the NSWMA, Jennifer Edwards, says that focus will be placed on waste reduction, through a series of public education messages to encourage members of the public to reuse, reduce and recycle.
She tells JIS News that waste reduction has become a major issue in Jamaica, primarily because persons are not managing their garbage. She argues that waste management can and should become a way of life, and, if practised continuously, will make the collection process easier.
One such way is by composting waste, such as left over vegetables, and peels from ground provisions such as yam and bananas.
“Put them in a container, add a little dirt, stir it, and use as fertilizer for potted plants and lawns, which makes them look lush, and will ultimately reduce the amount of waste that goes into our disposal sites,” she advises.
She also urges persons to reuse plastic containers and boxes. “So we are saying to persons, reuse as much as you can to prevent excess garbage. If you have boxes, use them for your children to do their drawing, or find some other creative way to utilize them,” she urges.
She notes that even though recycling is not a major business in Jamaica, because of inadequate facilities, nevertheless, waste materials suitable for reprocessing can be packaged by the NSWMA, and exported if containerized by citizens.
Importantly, she is advising citizens to avoid putting electronics into solid waste that is to be collected, because it is very difficult to separate, once it gets into the compactors. “Keep electronics separate, call us and we will make arrangements for them to be collected separately from the rest of the waste,” Miss Edwards states.
Keeping Jamaica Clean
As the lead agency charged with the responsibility of keeping Jamaica clean, Miss Edwards says the NSWMA is fully committed to carrying out its duty to collect, transport, store, and manage solid waste, “in order to prevent it from becoming a public and a health nuisance.”
Highlighting the agency’s tagline: ‘Jamaica’s Beauty is our duty’, the Executive Director notes, however, that keeping Jamaica clean is not just the responsibility of the Government, but is, in fact, the obligation of every citizen.
“It is the responsibility of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), private sector companies, government entities, and individual citizens. We have a responsibility to keep Jamaica clean, so don’t just throw your trash in the streets; bag it, containerize it, and we will collect it,” she implores.
Miss Edwards mentioned the ongoing ‘Keep Jamaica Clean’ campaign,an initiative of the Government of Jamaica, which is intended to encourage citizens to get into the habit of keeping their surroundings clean.
The NSWMA has also assigned community relations officers in each region across the island, to educate citizens about how best to manage their solid waste.
“As part of our mandate, we visit schools, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and citizens’ associations meetings, to interact and educate them about how best to reuse, reduce, and recycle solid waste,” Miss Edwards says.
A clean school competition is currently in progress, which will conclude in March 2013.
“Schools from across the island are competing against each other, to showcase the best ways of composting solid waste, separating plastics and turning waste-to-art,” she explains.
Mentioning the six-month waste separation pilot project, which ended in September 2012, and involved three communities in Kingston, Miss Edwards says the initiative will be extended to other areas of the island. Under the project, citizens of Karachi, Havendale, and Whitfield Town were charged with the responsibility to manage their waste through separating and containerizing.
“We are now moving into Manchester to conduct the second phase of this pilot project. Based on the feedback regarding the first phase of the project, there was a high compliance rate. In some communities there was a 52 per cent compliance rate, which showed that the residents are willing to work with the NSWMA, by managing their solid waste,” Miss Edwards said.
Working with Stakeholders
Miss Edwards said the NSWMA is in dialogue with parish councils to implement a clean city competition in 2013, where the best kept city will be awarded for proper waste management.
The agency will also be working with stakeholder agencies to enforce laws relating to illegal dumping and to ensure that garbage disposal is included in development planning.
“Presently, a lot of private sector personnel just dispose of their waste on the road, and oftentimes mix it with commercial waste, which is a major problem for us, and we are seeking to change that,” Miss Edwards says.
She tells JIS News that there is collaboration with the Kingston Chamber of Commerce (KCC), and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), to put measures in place, to prosecute such persons, if they are caught in the act.
The NSWMA is also working with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), and is looking at the agency’s re-development plans, especially for the downtown area, to ensure that when developments are being done, the NSWMA can easily gain access to those areas, to effectively collect waste.
“One of the challenges that we have is that homes are being developed on streets that are so narrow, that prevents our compactors from getting into those areas, so there is always a pile up of garbage, which eventually becomes a public health hazard,” Miss Edwards argues.
“We are working with different government entities, to ensure that whatever future plans are to be implemented, proper garbage disposal is taken into consideration,” she adds.
Importantly, Miss Edwards is encouraging citizens to pay their property taxes, which is a requirement by law, and is the agency’s main source of funding.
“Citizens of Jamaica; work with us; pay your property taxes, so we can accumulate the resources needed to carry out our job effectively…(and) be more efficient in our operations,” she appeals.
An agency of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the NSWMA was established in 2001, under the National Solid Waste Management Act.
The agency collects garbage everyday utilising its fleet of trucks and through contractual arrangements with private companies and individuals.
The NSWMA has eight waste disposal sites in Church Corner, St. Thomas; Riverton, Kingston; Doctors Wood, Portland; Haddon and Tobalski, St. Ann; Martin’s Hill, Manchester; Myersville, St. Elizabeth and Retirement, St. James.
The authority also has overall management and regulatory responsibilities for all the Parks and Market companies islandwide.