Belizeans need to change their culture on disposal of garbage

A consultation for the Solid Waste Management Authority on its project to link the Western Corridor from Benque Viejo to the cayes to a single regional landfill located at Mile 24 on the Western Highway was held today. Previously each community had its own dump-site for all sorts of garbage that resulted in environmental and public health concerns. The Authority hopes that it can persuade Belizeans to change their culture with regard to disposal of garbage. We hear more from Gilroy Lewis, the project coordinator.

Gilroy Lewis – Project Coordinator:
vlcsnap-2013-04-19-21h21m06s118A vicious circle is where we are as it relates to [waste management]. If you have insufficient revenues, therefore you won’t be able to invest in waste management infrastructure. That results in poor service, whether that be in collection, or it results in open dumping of garbage and the burning of that garbage.  Of course, that often results in  unwillingness to pay on the part of the users. We have our open dump sites.  If the collection service is not reliable, then no-one will be obligated to pay for waste management service.

Lewis cited results of a survey conducted in the towns along the Western Corridor including Belize City in 2011 which found that Belize City residents created nearly 85 tons of trash per day, much of which was residential in origin. A majority of that is biodegradable organic material and other sources include plastic, paper, and glass. 63% of City residents in 2011 were satisfied with the collection process of Belize Waste Control, Belize Maintenance Limited and the Council; however, an overwhelming majority believed they should not have to pay for said collection. But with the coming on stream of the solid waste project, they will have to. At its taking office Darrell Bradley’s City Council announced that it was pushing a $10 fee for collection and disposal by residents. Under the new plan,  the fee will be closer to $13 and would have been higher if not for Government agreeing to pay back capital expenditure for the project, which includes preparing the Mile 24 site to handle all kinds of waste. Each town and city will have a transfer station where the garbage will be brought, recyclable material culled and the rest carted off. Lewis explains why this will make things easier especially in the smaller villages.

Gilroy Lewis – Project Coordinator:
The structure of the plan that we are proposing in conjunction with the City Council consists of three components.  The cost of collecting garbage, the capital investment cost, and the operations and initiative costs of the landfill and transfer station. So that’s the basic structure. The target areas are Belize City and any surrounding communities that will use the service of the transfer station.  So each area transfer station is not only for that area. The transfer station can also be used by the surrounding communities.  It is not necessary for each community to have its own dump site.  Why do you want a dump site in your village, if you have a transfer station in your vicinity, within a ten mile radius.  

A social fee of approximately $3 has been proposed for the most indigent families but final details are being worked out as to who will pay and to whom they will pay. The current dump-sites, Lewis told PLUS News, will be capped and a layer of top soil spread for vegetation to grow. Consultations continue and there are similar plans for the North and South.