Saba Commissioner of Infrastructure and Waste Management Bruce Zagers signed a letter of intent for the purchase of a new, state-of-the-art waste-processing installation for the island while in Canada last week.
The finalisation of the purchase is pending further negotiations on the final construction of the installation and approval from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management I&W on Saba’s improvement plans for waste management.
A delegation of the public entity Saba led by Zagers travelled to Canada last week to inspect waste-processing and -burning installations. The most promising one is an installation designed by Ragnar Original Innovation (ROI), an American company specialised in innovative waste-processing systems.
Saba signed the letter of intent with both ROI and its regional counterpart Johnson’s Enterprises. The latter company, based in Aruba, has introduced the system in the Caribbean. Both companies will work on a system that is tailor-made to Saba’s needs.
The main element of the installation is a unique air burner that allows controlled and full burning of waste, thereby significantly limiting harmful combustion emissions. Combined with a system for efficient separation of recyclables and safe removal of ash, this semi-automated system ensures efficient, clean and safe processing of waste. Another advantage is that maintenance of the system can mostly be done locally and at low cost.
This new installation is needed after the current air burner was damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In the context of building back better, the public entity Saba is also investigating the option to relocate the waste-burning installation to a more suitable location on the island that does not cause smoke issues in villages.
Multiple tests will be done to ensure that the smoke does not cause any more problems to the populated areas before any final decisions are made about the new location, Zagers explained.
As for the current operations, there seems to be some concern within the community about whether waste is being separated or even processed, other than what is being burnt. Because the white recycling trucks are not working, the normal yellow trucks are being used to separately pick up the recycled and non-recycled waste.All waste is further separated at the landfill by the staff. Government urges the community to continue separating at the household, as this makes the process much more efficient and hygienic for those who are manually sorting garbage at the landfill.
The planned investments will not only lead to a more efficient waste-management system, but will also make Saba more self-sufficient.
“Being self-sufficient is crucial for an island in the hurricane region. After the passing of Irma and Maria, Saba was inaccessible for almost a month,” said Zagers. “We want to be prepared for a next hurricane with a waste-management system that can efficiently handle large quantities of waste while still ensuring proper separation of recyclables.
“We finally have the financial means to relocate the waste-burning installation and all efforts must be made to make this a reality seeing that this has been a problem for the residents of St. Johns for many decades.”
The Saba government is currently discussing the plans with the Ministry of I&W and aims to have the new waste-processing system in place before the end of the year. A new recycling information campaign is also being planned.
The Daily Herald.