Starling: New Waste Disposal Laws Needed

August 12, 2014

[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling]

While I am currently off-island, I understand from media reports and discussion on social media that recently there have been some issues regarding trash collection.

This was a bit of a hot topic in the run up to the 2012 election, being held up by many opposed to the then PLP government as evidence as mismanagement. Hopefully we can all agree now that, while there may be some mismanagement issues [particularly in the maintenance of various equipment], this was not something unique to the PLP.

The workers involved are often overlooked, although they play an incredibly important role in our society – a role we all too often take for granted, at least until something goes wrong.

Despite the focus given to issues of waste by various people pre-election, the respective election platforms were largely silent on these issues, and post-election there has been no new policies put forward either.

To the PLP’s credit, their election platform did call for the development of National Recycling Programme, including bottle deposit legislation, which was also included in my own election platform.

And to the OBA’s credit, last June the OBA MP Kenneth Bascome also called for a bottle bill to be developed, although nothing seems to have come of that so far.

While a bottle bill would not address the current issue of trash delays, it could at least help reduce the sheer scale of trash currently clogging up the waste disposal system.

Based on policies proposed in my 2012 election platform and my 2013 submission to the SAGE Commission, I suggest the following policies may also help improve waste management in Bermuda:

    • Implement a ‘bottle bill’ [beverage container deposit legislation] for glass and aluminium beverage containers to encourage a greater rate of recycling and reduce the public health and biodiversity risks, as well as the aesthetic consequences, of such litter.
    • Initiate a national composting strategy including curb-side collection of non-meat food waste.
    • Install in-vessel composting at the Pembroke Dump facility to replace the existing open-air system, which is unsightly and prone to fires. This would also expedite the conversion of parts of the site to community uses, as it requires significantly less space.
    • Introduce a ‘pay-as-you-throw’ [PAYT] system for residential curb-side collection.
    • Provide each residential unit with a ‘free’ single 32 gallons waste container [with secure lid and wheels].
    • Provide an option to pay, at an exponential rate, for either additional or larger containers [64 and 96 gallons options].
    • Containers for curb-side compost and/or recycling collection to be provided ‘free’.
    • This has aesthetic and public health benefits over the existing system [less prone to torn bags or rat-related incidents].
    • Creates an economic incentive for reducing curb-side waste, while encouraging recycling and composting.
    • Allows for the cost of collection and disposal to be partially recuperated.
    • Fines for failing to comply with the system [with only waste within containers collected] could also be implemented.
    • As opposed to the current ‘flat-rate’ system, PAYT allows those who produce less waste to pay less, while those producing more waste will pay proportionally, helping to reduce ‘free riders’ who are subsidised under the flat-rate system.
    • PAYT will also reduce costs involved in waste separation, through encouraging greater rates of curb-side separation of recyclables.
    • Such PAYT containers also improve the health and safety of workers, with potential savings through improved efficiency of waste collection.

- Jonathan Starling

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Category: All, Environment, News

Comments (14)

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  1. Hmmm says:

    So your solution to drivers and workers not being able to pick up one load of trash is to separate it all out and require more trucks and collections.

    If they can’t do the one thing right, then to do a number of things will prove a disaster for the island.

    Do you have a vested interest in composting…. you keep bringing it up?

  2. lizard says:

    As I have said before this man needs to viist MAWI.

    • PBanks says:

      Why, lizard? Which one of his points is insane?

      As far as I can see, the only suggestion that may not be remotely feasible is providing each unit with a receptacle (not just because of volume/cost, but also possibility of theft/vandalism)

      • Voter (original) says:

        The council provides bins in the UK. You write your name on it.. The collection vehicles pick them up by the handles and dump them into the vehicle, no manual labour needed.

  3. bluebird says:

    “PRIVITIZE” the trash collection and disposal.
    It would be more efficient and much better.
    Goverment is “NOT” the solution

  4. pabear says:

    i can’t believe we as a people still demand free curb side pick up it our trash we create and we demand other people to pick it up, the gov’s job is waste management, we should try putting large trash container for different types of trash and we the people take our own trash to them like most of the civilize world dose it

    • PBanks says:

      In a small country where not everybody has personal cars or trucks, it makes sense for a service in place to help dispose of our trash.

      Whether it’s best done at a national/govt level, or as a privately-run service as bluebird suggests, could be up for discussion.

      • pabear says:

        sorry pbanks that’s bull cause the same people who don’t have personal cars or trucks can find their way out on the town every friday without fail but you say they can’t take a bag of trash to the dump f***ing laziness in other country they are privately run and they still don’t come to your front door wake up it your trash don’t demand other to clean up after your lazy a**

        • PBanks says:

          Now you’re generalizing. What about the elderly? What about physically disabled people? What about people who genuinely don’t have a personal car and don’t go about the place every Friday? Come on.

          I see that you have adjusted your commentary to reflect that in some places, there do exist garbage collection services (that are privately run) as opposed to your initial argument that in the “civilize world” everybody takes their trash to the dump themselves.

          That’s a start. If garbage collection should be outsourced, then let’s have the discussion.

  5. Terry says:

    What planet do you folks live on.
    Starling is a Communist.
    He loves to create.

    Freeking island is broke.
    Maybe his mate Putin can help out.
    Please what was written above.

    Rum time.

  6. Really says:

    I bought my own wheely bin and each week when they collected the trash the trash collectors tossed it up my yard broke the lid and cracked the wheels off so I stopped and now go back to just putting the bags out I felt I was being sent a message I called to complain and the situation only got worse so can’t only imagine the kaos the above will cause .
    Most country’s separate household trash and have for example every three weeks for paper waste every two for recycles and weekly for food waste any of these can be done by a private company .

  7. Voter (original) says:

    What about plastic recycling. Most of my trash is plastic.
    Also, why not split e island into 4 collection areas. That way it is still a 4-day trash collection, albeit once a week, as we used to do without too much trouble. Might make it more manageable?

    • Ringmaster says:

      Agree with once a week. Once is all that is needed and 4 zones would make it manageable and more efficient with the smaller trucks. Having said that, privatization is still the way to go.

  8. Thank you Jayme. I would also like to mention, “how many people are going to be willing to pat $ to dispose trash?” Though I do agree with having a deposit on bottles / cans this will reduce the amount of bottles and can tossed into the bushes etc.