The tonnes of solid waste generated by residential, commercial and institutional sources each year, is being viewed as a potential source of income for enterprising Jamaicans.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM) Julian Robinson, notes that in addition to saving the environment there is value in converting waste to energy.
He was participating in a panel discussion on the topic: ‘Entrepreneurship: The Solid Waste Opportunity,’ held Thursday March 29 on the University of Technology campus in Kingston, as part of the institution’s Week of Excellence activities.
Citing a 2006 report by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), which noted that 69 per cent of the waste generated in Jamaica was organic, with 70 per cent coming from households, he said that this could be recovered and utilised to generate energy and create revenue.
"For every one million tonnes of refuse processed the need to use 1.67 million barrels of oil to generate that same amount of electricity is offset. This leads to significant savings in the country’s fuel bill resulting in an increased balance of payment,” he stated.
Converting waste to energy, Mr. Robinson noted, will also address the problem of scarce landfill space. “Currently the country generates an estimated 1.5 kilograms per person, per day of solid waste. It is estimated by the NSWMA that the country’s largest disposal site (Riverton) will reach its maximum peak by the year 2014. If that is correct there is a lot of work to be done,” he stated.
He said that the increased cost of managing the landfills is also becoming a critical issue, noting that the government sent about $60 million to bring the recent fire at Riverton under control.
The State Minister said there is a noticeable increase in awareness among Jamaicans about the value of waste and the need to preserve the environment, pointing to the growth in the harvesting of plastic bottles for export, while many schools and organisations have implemented recycling programmes.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO