With these new processes, the crew at the waste management facility has been able to reduce the burning of the residual waste in the air burner from 4 to 5 times per week to one night per week, stated Commissioner of Infrastructure Bruce Zagers. Seeing that the majority of the waste that is being burned is organic, the burning cycle is much cleaner resulting in less and cleaner emissions.
Single use plastics and contaminated plastics are no longer being incinerated in the air burner. On average, 40 jumbo bags of these plastics per week are being pulled out during the sorting. Usually, this was being burned but will be instead exported and will be repurposed in a waste-to-energy plant in South Florida.
This week eight empty shipping containers are expected to arrive on the island, so that the processed waste that has been accumulated so far for the year can be shipped out. Based on early estimations, one to two containers every two weeks will be needed to ship out the baled plastics which are not burned. This does not include the other waste streams that are normally shipped out such as metals, tires and carboard.
In addition to the improvements, a truck scale has been purchased and has arrived this week. Once this is installed, statistics can be generated showing the volumes coming in, volumes being exported and ultimately what is left to be burned. With real time statistics, more tactful decisions can be made.
To further improve the processes at the waste management facility, the purchasing of a larger commercial chipper/shredder is being contemplated. This machine will be used to chip the treated lumber, tires, white goods (appliances) etc. With the chipper, treated lumber would be removed from the burning process which is another step towards making the burning process much cleaner. Furthermore, by chipping or shredding the materials, a more efficient loading of the containers becomes possible, which in turn will save costs in exporting the containers.
Since introducing recycling to the island in 2015 there has been several improvements but also obvious challenges throughout the last years, stated Commissioner Zagers. “What is important now is that we can maintain the results that we have seen during the month of March. We all have a role in whether we truly make this initiative a success or not. The success of this goes beyond the role of the workers at the Waste Management Facility. It starts with properly sorting waste streams at the households and then to ensuring that the garbage is being collected in the right manner. When these two fundamental steps become more efficient, the working processes at the Waste Management Facility will also greatly improve. We should not dwell on the challenges in the past but look towards the future as we commit to making and maintaining these improvements in our waste management.”
Lastly, a house-to-house information campaign about the importance of waste separation and single-use plastics will begin next week Monday. During the house-to-house campaign, the households will receive a manual on how to separate waste as well as a starting kit of reusable items to replace single-use plastics. A family event to further promote these initiatives is being planned for April.