The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture and the Solid Waste Management Authority hosted the inauguration of the San Pedro Transfer Station located on Marina Drive by the D.F.C. Area on Friday, July 3, 2015.
The transfer station is a processing site where the garbage (solid waste) will be temporarily deposited, and sorted before being transferred to a larger waste disposal site. This means that San Pedro will eliminate the process of dumping the island’s garbage waste in the current landfill site and burning it. This should alleviate any issues associated with the dump including the smoke affecting the resorts and residents in the area and the harmful effects to the environment. The site will eventually be covered with white sand.
How will the new Transfer Station work?
1. Collecting vehicles (garbage trucks and self-haul vehicles like pickup trucks or dump trucks take the waste to the Transfer Station where it is dumped on a concrete floor indoors. This concrete floor area is known as the "tipping" floor.
2. Recyclable materials such as PET bottles (soft drink and water bottles), HDPE bottles (bleach bottles), glass bottles, aluminum and steel cans are sorted by hand and removed from the facility.
3. The leftover waste is then lifted by a front end loader into large-capacity transfer trailers and hauled to the Regional Sanitary Landfill. This will be barged out of the island, thus eliminating any waste being dumped on the island as it will be transported to the mainland for proper disposal.
The San Pedro Transfer Station is now the fourth of five stations that are now operational in the country, which include sanitary landfill located on George Price Highway, the Belize City Transfer Station and the San Ignacio Santa Elena, Benque Viejo Transfer Station. Those three have been operational since August of 2013. The fifth to be concluded shortly, in about a month’s time, is the final one on the island of Caye Caulker.
“I am confident that the outputs and outcomes of this solid waste management project will benefit all of us as it provides a firm foundation for the continuous implementation of best practices in solid waste management especially here in San Pedro,” commented Gaspar Vega, Minister of Natural Resources. “Ultimately, it will contribute to the protection of the public health, the environment, the barrier reef system, and the quality of everyone’s life.”
Deputy Mayor Gary Greif stated that the completion of this project will be one that will benefit the island, especially for the tourism industry as people flying over the island will no longer see the plume of smoke from the burning garbage from the dump site.
Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation, also shared how the evolution of garbage disposal in San Pedro has moved on so rapidly due to the rapid growth and development of the island. He remembers how the area where he currently resides was once a garbage disposal site when San Pedro was a fishing village.
Following the Hon. Heredia's remarks, Minister of Natural Resources & Agriculture and Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Gaspar Vega, gave the keynote address. Hon. Vega mentioned that the San Pedro transfer station was a long time coming and is glad to see the completion of the transfer station. He and his team have been working very hard in order for the completion of all transfer stations, and now that San Pedro's transfer station is now complete, they shall proceed on the construction of the Caye Caulker Transfer Station.
During these 22 months of operations, an average of 53 tons of solid waste is transferred daily from the Belize City transfer station and 20 tons from the San Ignacio/Santa Elena – Benque Viejo transfer station. In other words, an average of 73 tons of solid waste is now being disposed at the regional sanitary landfill in an environmentally sound manner. Previously, these wastes would have been dumped at the Belize City and Western dumpsites to pollute the soil, our water resources and the air, not to mention the odours, smoke and fumes from the constant dumpsite fires. It is estimated that this San Pedro facility will be receiving some 15 to 20 tons of solid waste daily.
In November of 2013, the Belize Solid Waste Management Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture recognized by the Inter – American Development Bank and the FEMSA Foundation of Mexico, at the Fifth Edition of the Water Sanitation Award for Latin America and the Caribbean 2013, for their innovation and provision of effective solutions with proven results in the management of solid waste, potable water, and sanitation.
The ultimate goal of the project is that of resource management instead of waste management; of prevention, avoidance and reduction of waste instead of wanton generation and consumerism; to proper containment and set-out for collection and recycling instead of littering and indiscriminate dumping.
“As the country develops, disposal income increases and tourism increases, consumption of goods and services also increases and solid waste generation rates increase accordingly,” stated Hon. Vega. “Therefore, we need to be cognizant not only of the role we play in generating solid waste at our individual household level, but also of our responsibility and contribution, to the avoidance, the recycling and proper management of residual waste.”
Presently the San Pedro Town Council counts with two trash compactors, four dump trucks, and two regular trucks and Mayor Guerrero indicates that they have purchased 500 garbage drums that will add enough coverage on the island. Plus the Town Council is adding eight new people to its sanitation staff to assist with the growing needs of the island.