09/07/2012

A zero waste perspective for Tobago

Landfills and incinerators are no longer the only choices for managing society's discards. There is a third option now available for communities, one that creates jobs, protects the environment and strengthens the local economy: Zero Waste.

These prospects were presented by Mr Eric Lombardi, leading waste-management expert and Executive Director of Eco-Cycle, in an informative session on 'The Path to Building a Zero Waste Community, the Ten Year Plan'. This plan outlines the short, medium and long term management of waste. Lombardi made his presentation to the key stakeholders in Tobago last Friday at the new Scarborough General Hospital.

Dr V Partapsingh, County Medical Officer of Health, Division of Health and Social Services in his opening remarks, stated that both his office and the Division are committed to working with all the stakeholders to ensure that Tobago's motto of Clean, Green, Safe and Serene is maintained. He encouraged the stakeholders present to ask all the necessary questions and as well present their ideas and feedback during the presentation.

Pearline Nelson, Public Health Inspector III, Public Health Services Department acknowledged that there has been a paradigm shift from waste disposal to waste minimisation and thanked Lombardi for coming to sensitize the health sector about a 10 year strategy to Zero Waste. She congratulated Essie Parks, Programme Officer II, Division of Health and Social Services, for her dedication in organising this sensitization session and for partnering with Mr. Lombardi. It was through the efforts of Ms Parks that Tobago was chosen to be one of three countries from among 64 competing countries in which the US State Government would fund the Zero Waste project.

Eric Lombardi is the Executive Director of Eco-Cycle, now the largest community-based Zero Waste organization in the United States, processing over 55,000 tons of diverse recycled materials per year. During his presentation, Lombardi, explained that the Eco-Cycle Bridge Strategy to a Zero Waste Community is a ten-year plan that serves as a roadmap for how a community can transition from a world dominated by waste disposal – using landfills and incinerators – to one dominated by resource recovery – using recycling, composting, reuse and waste reduction.

Lombardi commended Trinidad and Tobago for formulating the 'National Solid Waste/Resource Management Policy' that sets a clear direction for Trinidad and Tobago for the next 10 years. It integrates a policy and a regulatory framework and will build on a valuable existing foundation by providing a nationally agreed direction and focus informed by extensive consultation. He stated that the document was a good one and a step in the right direction.

The session concluded with a lively discussion forum where the stakeholders raised their concerns ranging from hosting of public education campaigns on waste reduction, improvements in government policy and provision of incentives to encourage recycling. There were also talks on introduction of 'green' initiatives such as plastic bottle recycling already established in some primary schools, futuristic technologies on waste removal and the negative effects of certain products such as plastic food containers and Styrofoam when made in contact with heat. 
Source: Tobago News (June 29th 2012)