The SWMC will be conducting a waste characterization study from March 27th to 31st. Waste characterization is a method used to determine the types of materials being discarded in a waste stream and in what proportion. Waste characterization information can help policy makers reduce landfill waste, set up recycling programs, and conserve money and resources. Operations Officer and Coordinator of this project, Mr. Valentine Heyliger said for one week, about 10 to 15 employees of the SWMC will be participating in the study where waste would be separated from the various districts on St. Kitts. Mr. Heyliger took a particular interest in waste characterization which he did as part of his course in Japan. “The garbage truck comes in on a regular basis and will be taking a sample from the different garbage trucks on the different days. They would be taking, say ten bags of garbage from West Basseterre from the Monday before they go and dump them, then the Tuesday, East Basseterre, similar thing, same amount. There will be uniformity as to the amount taken from the different areas,” he explained.
He explained that the process is very dirty, messy, time consuming and costly. But, he stressed that it is important and long overdue. The last waste characterization exercise was done six years ago. “It’s something that supposed to be done a little more often than that,” Heyliger said. “We having this one during the dry season…we going to have one in November which would give you a different picture. I already have a budget of $10,000 allocated for that because we’re going to need tents, disposable gloves, respirators, rubber boots, because you want to protect you workers; scotch tapes to mark the bins because we will have to put the (waste) in separate bins,” he explained. The workers will start from 9am till 2pm for the whole week.
The SWMC officials stressed that this exercise is very important in determining government policy. Even the staff usually involved are field workers from the SWMC, Mr. Heyliger noted that even some office staff members have expressed an interest to work on this project. “Some other persons from the administration department are showing a lot of interest,” he said, noting that the team is mostly from the collections department. Meanwhile, Mr. Heyliger explained how the information would be tabulated. “It will be put in pie chart so you can get a percentage. For example 25% of the waste could be Styrofoam, another 10% might be pet bottles, maybe 15% is green waste, you never know. From that you will get a more accurate picture of how people utilize materials and dispose of them,” Heyliger said.