The Daily Herald writes that the recycling plant in Fort Bay harbour area on Saba was opened Friday, February 27.
From that moment Saba was the first of the three Dutch Caribbean islands to recycle waste material. Four months later The Daily Herald met with Government Information Service Officer Vito Charles for an update about the current status of the recycling programme.
Many persons on Saba have mentioned that the new medical grade incinerator malfunctioned as soon as it was put into operation. This is partially true, as the machine was damaged shortly after the initial successful test runs. Although the damage was not as severe as to render the machine inoperable, there was a delay caused by the manufacturer in sending a part that needed repair.
According to Charles, the occurrence was not due to an error, and the staff had received the required training for operating the equipment.
Around two weeks ago, the part needed to repair the incinerator finally arrived on Saba, and a local mechanic repaired the machine.
Shortly after, another issue arose, this time of electrical origin, which required the incinerator to stay idle for a longer period. Although, according to Charles, this is a minor defect which should be resolved within a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, the existing air burner, which was installed in 2012, is being used. People, especially those living around the schools in St. John’s, have been complaining about the smell the air burner is currently producing.
Dr. Koen Hulshof has been requested to advise on the matter. “The last couple of weeks, I visited St. John’s several times after receiving complaints about the smell caused by the air burner. The situation had me worried. I have shared these concerns with Commissioner of Health Bruce Zagers. “My advice was to have the medical grade incinerator functioning as soon as possible and to see how, in the meantime, the air burner can be used as efficiently as possible. This with the goal of reducing the amount of smoke and fine particles being released in the air,” Hulshof explained.
According to Charles, the only machine not working is the medical grade incinerator. All other machines, such as the separator conveyor belt, are working correctly and waste is being recycled.
Some citizens complained about the garbage men not separating the waste when it is picked up from the bins on the street. Charles said that government was also aware of these complaints and the issue has been addressed. “The head of the Public Works and Sanitation Department is overseeing that the waste is being collected accordingly. The schedule for garbage pick-up has been altered, and as of now the non-recyclables will be picked up on a different day than the recyclable material,” Charles said.
“We have to remember that this recycling programme is new for everyone and some things we learn through experience. Other islands and countries have taken years to change things. No one expects that everything goes flawlessly from the get-go. Mistakes can and will be made, but in the end we are slowly working toward a better waste disposal system on Saba,” Charles said.
As to the overall current status of the recycling programme, Charles said that marked improvements are being made. The campaign to inform and encourage people to recycle is being continued.
Recently, an informational video on recycling was produced and broadcast through public television and Facebook. Charles added that new brochures on the matter will be released within two months. He encouraged everyone “to make the extra effort and recycle their waste for a better and cleaner Saba.”