How to keep Barbados clean
ILLEGAL DUMPING has restarted with a vengeance, and littering continues to be rampant throughout our island, and there have been the usual cries of protest from the public in the media.
However, the authorities remain unwilling to do anything about it. A tipping fee without enforcement of laws is a serious mistake.
In 2013, Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe proudly announced the proposed Environmental Management Act which would prosecute people who abused the environment. This never materialised. In fact, the minister has little or nothing to show for the last eight years and should be replaced with someone who can get things done. There are several practical things that could be done to keep Barbados clean.
• The first thing is to buy trucks for the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA). The minister promised this a few years ago but we are still waiting. Having only half of the fleet in operation is ludicrous.
• Since there is an acute shortage of garbage cans, leading to unsightly piles of garbage bags, cans on wheels and with lids should be given to householders in certain communities. Some communities, especially in urban Barbados, do not have a lot of space for individual garbage cans, so skips could be used.
• A stipulation of having a public event should be the temporary placement of adequate garbage/litter receptacles so that the patrons have a proper way of disposing of their refuse.
• Hundreds of litter bins should be placed in the public domain as there is a serious shortage.
• Recycling should be promoted and the same rate paid to the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) should be paid to the recyclers. In other words, the recyclers should be given a diversionary credit equal to what is paid to SBRC for each tonne of garbage. This would help the recyclers to be profitable, which is not the case at present.
• The deposit on plastic bottles should be expanded to include all water, juice and sports drink bottles. This would encourage much more recycling of plastic bottles.
• When an appliance is purchased, a deposit should be paid to the retailer, which in turn should be passed on to a certified recycler. When the old appliance is taken to the recycler, the deposit should be refunded. This would reduce the number of old appliances dumped illegally.
• Styrofoam food containers should be banned, as planned in Dominica, and replaced with biodegradable food containers. Since these are more expensive, the duty should be removed.
• Supermarkets should charge a nominal fee for plastic bags and should sell reusable shopping bags at a subsidised price to reduce the number of bags used. This would make the public think twice before accepting bags that they do not need.
• Rather than having people collect litter manually on foot, the SSA should have three or four pickup trucks equipped with suction devices to make litter collection much more efficient and widespread.
• Since much litter blows off of the backs of open-back vehicles, truck nets should be made compulsory to curb this.
• “No Littering” signs should be erected islandwide.
• Tickets for littering should be issued so that the police would not waste time arresting someone for littering with a later court appearance. Perhaps litter wardens could also be hired to ticket people who litter.
• Anyone caught dumping illegally should be arrested to appear in court and should be fined heavily, and they should have to clean up what they dumped. Simply making them clean up the illegally dumped items, as has happened in the past, is not enough of a deterrent.
• Coconut vendors should be prosecuted if they do not immediately remove the empty coconuts.
• Before the fines are implemented, an educational programme in the media should be carried out and a date chosen for the implementation. This was done when the seatbelt law was implemented with great success.
• People prosecuted for minor offences should be made to clean up litter along the road and perhaps assist the litter collection teams.
– Peter Bynoe