Fri | Sep 17, 2021

NSWMA to undertake garbage profile survey

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2021 | 12:07 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is to undertake a comprehensive garbage characterisation survey, slated to get under way in the second quarter of the year, to determine what percentage of much of the country’s solid waste is tyres, plastic, cardboard, Styrofoam, vegetable matter, peeling skins and electronic devices, among others.

Executive Director of the NSWMA, Audley Gordon, said the garbage profile will provide the requisite scientific data to guide any programme of specialised sorting and containerisation of the refuse, which he said is needed to address the chaos garbage collectors face on a daily basis.

He told The Gleaner that since the ban on ‘scandal’ bags took effect, fewer of them have been detected in the waste stream, which is good on one hand. Before the ban, residents usually reused these as garbage bags which they were able to seal and contain the waste.

“We are seeing the same amount of solid waste. What we are seeing is that where people used to use the scandal bag to containerise garbage, they are now using other things like boxes, etc and some of these alternate containers are not sealed properly to prevent the garbage from spilling. And this is a problem for us because it delays us when we have to clean up the waste,” he said.

As to whether the ban on Styrofoam food containers had resulted in their replacement with equal amounts of plastic, Gordon said he could not speak to this and would await the results of the survey.

“In terms of the foam versus plastics, I would really love to do a more analytic look than to speak off the top of my head. So we will be doing a garbage characterisation survey which is planned for the second quarter of the year and that will give us a scientific response, instead of using anecdotal data.”


The NSWMA head also encouraged householders to use the peeling skins from their kitchen, as well as vegetable waste, to make compost heaps which could be used to fertilise their gardens.

“There is no point you have an ongoing source of something that can used as soil nutrient and you put it in a truck to be carted away. We could do our own little composting and we are talking to people about that because especially in those hard-to-reach areas and areas that are impossible to reach, we would love to see composting become more of a regular feature.”

This approach would be practical for communities such as Gordon Town in St Andrew which has been cut off by a major road breakaway and cannot be accessed by the NSWMA’s large garbage trucks.

The organisation has since worked out an arrangement with the community, which has been going well, where residents bring the garbage to a collection point using wheelbarrows, where it is then picked up by the trucks.

“We made special arrangements after our team met with the leadership of the citizens’ group and other people there and we were able to work out a solution. We have to give the citizens credit for that because that wasn’t a top-down arrangement. We had a conversation and the citizens made suggestions and they followed through and we tried to keep our end of the bargain and that worked well for what it’s worth.”