Governments to explore options together in waste management | THE DAILY HERALD

THE HAGUE–Cooperation in the solid waste management process between the countries in the Kingdom – delegations at last week’s Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO are asking their governments to look at this option to tackle the waste issues that the Dutch Caribbean countries are facing, St. Maarten being a critical case.

The IPKO agreements list which was signed on Friday, includes a request of the four Parliaments for their governments to explore the options of having a joint tendering process for waste-incineration installations by several countries, taking into consideration the geographic location of the islands.

The Parliaments’ call came after a visit of representatives of the four Parliaments in the Kingdom to waste management and energy company AVR near Rotterdam on Wednesday. The delegations were inspired by the detailed explanation provided by AVR Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yves Luca and his staff about the possibilities in waste management.

It was concluded that creating a bigger volume by processing the waste of the islands together is a viable option that merits being explored. The AVR representatives explained that they saw possibilities in having the islands work together in the waste management process and in generating energy from that waste.

Waste management in the Netherlands has changed throughout the years: from dumping to incinerating to recycling. The processing of waste-to-energy and recyclables is not profitable on its own, and as such households in the Netherlands pay a waste management tax. Waste management companies try to reduce cost by creating more volume and selling recyclables and the energy generated in the process.

St. Maarten delegation leader and Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams said at the press conference on Friday, after the signing of the agreements list, that the proposal to visit a waste management facility had come from St. Maarten and Aruba and Curaçao had immediately supported the idea.

Asked whether the St. Maarten Parliament was committed to realising a permanent solution for the dump on St. Maarten finally, after so many years, Wescot-Williams (United Democrats) said this was a top priority. In fact, the Parliament recently adopted a motion in which the local government was asked to make this a number one national priority and to urgently set up a waste management authority.

Wescot-Williams said there were indeed many reports with many different proposals on how to tackle the dump and arrive at a permanent, sustainable waste management system. Offers were made to St. Maarten, but it is the St. Maarten government that urgently needs to decide on how to progress on this matter, she said. “A decision needs to be taken for once and for all, which road we will take. Naturally, this decision has a financial consequence.”

According to Wescot-Williams, the possible solutions for the dump on St. Maarten are known and it makes sense to use the expertise available in the Kingdom around waste management. “Why re-invent the wheel if the expertise is there?” She said the local government will be encouraged to make use of the expertise offered within the Kingdom.
Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs of the National Alliance said that it made sense to pool resources with the other countries in the Kingdom. She said the question was how to maintain a waste-to-energy system running in a profitable manner once the waste disposal site has been significantly reduced in size, she stated during Friday’s press conference.

Jacobs was very positive about cooperating with the other countries. “There are possibilities and we should utilise these to tackle the landfill. This is too big a situation to take on by ourselves,” she said in an interview with The Daily Herald during last week’s IPKO. She said two components were important to address in the process: education/awareness and recycling, which are directly related.

“We need to educate our people about the importance of having a proper, sustainable manner to process our waste. This involves active recycling. We must separate. We need agreements [designating – Ed.] where the separated and collected recyclables would go, to which country. We need to work together on this issue because we are a small country and the hill of rubbish is big,” Jacobs said.

St. Maarten MP Rolando Brison of the United St. Maarten Party addressed the waste disposal site in a presentation he gave at the IPKO on Tuesday about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said St. Maarten’s sustainability was hampered by one major issue: waste management and the dump.

Brison said the matter has been earmarked as a top priority for many MPs during the recent budget debate. An urgent meeting has been called with government to address this issue in the new Parliament, which should take place soon. He said there are health, environmental and economic implications of this potentially disastrous situation that remained unchecked.

The waste management issue is bigger than the political parties, said Brison. “The dump cannot be a political issue. It can’t be about who came up with which plan and who proposed what. The situation is too urgent for finger pointing,” he told this newspaper last week.

Curaçao MP Ana-Maria Pauletta of the PAR party also mentioned the visit to the AVR facility during Friday’s press conference. She said dumping garbage as is currently taking place in Curaçao is not a sustainable manner of waste disposal. Curaçao has already set up a recycling programme which will keep expanding over time. She said the delegations had received a lot of useful information during their visit to the AVR.

Source: The Daily Herald