When Hurricane Earl left its trail of destruction behind, garbage accumulated throughout Belize. Since the island is a tourist destination, the community did a great job of cleaning up the mess. However, there are still a few visible signs of debris, and one question remains: ‘what happened with all of the trash?’

The San Pedro Sun contacted the Solid Waste Management to find out. Emerson Garcia explained the process of gathering debris after a natural disaster, as well as the recommendation that were given to San Pedro. “The whole idea was for all the municipalities countrywide to put all of the debris in the transfer station. Once it is in the station, it was going to be cut into three or four pieces and then moved to the mainland’s landfill. The majority of debris in San Pedro was used as landfill. The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) went ahead and collected it. It was used to put in some lands or roads as landfill. First, we didn’t advise them to do that because it could be a problem in the future when it starts to decompose. Even though we recommended them to store it temporarily in the station, the SPTC took the initiative to use the debris as landfill,” said Garcia.

In an interview with Mayor Daniel Guerrero, he confirmed that the organic trash was repurposed as landfill. “Most of the trash was used to fill in lower areas. A lot of people criticize us about using certain kinds of garbage, and I completely agree. We are using the old method that was always used in the past. Many of the houses in the United States are built on top of trash and swamps. People always criticize, but yet they don’t come with a big check that could buy meters of sand to fill up the lower areas. Belize is a young country, and I think we are doing a good job so far. We’re trying to do what we can with the limited resourced we have. I know it’s not healthy as the environmentalists would like to see it, but again, my advice to those who criticize is to come with a check and then I will fill with sand,” said Mayor Guerrero.

Mayor Guerrero is currently active in the SPTC’s Clean-Up Campaign, morning talk show on Reef Radio educating people to keep their surroundings clean, and mandating regular garbage pickups. He also acknowledged that the island is growing, and thus the same equipment used in 2012 cannot serve the same capacity in 2017. Therefore, the mayor is committed to purchasing four new trash compactors and two additional dump trucks. He is also currently negotiating with investors to bring a recycling plant to San Pedro to sort out all plastic, glass, bottles, and aluminum.

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