Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Letter of the Day: Jamaica needs garbage reform

Published:Monday | March 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I have been a Gleaner reader for 45 years, and, frequently, the subject of garbage disposal hits the pages announcing clean-up campaigns, or bemoaning the issues, as in Saturday's editorial 'Garbage again' (March 5, 2016). In the just-concluded election campaign, the then prime minister was on TV with, among other things, a message of "don't throw your garbage in the gullies".

My question is, where are people going to throw it? Driving around the country, in towns and villages, one is acutely aware of the lack of skips and containers for citizens to dispose of their refuse. On the rare occasion you see one, it is overflowing or turned upside down because the bottom has long rotted, making it useless.

Last year, I spent six months in Sweden (the country of my birth) and I was amazed at how well the garbage situation was handled. Every household has a set of small bins under the sink with specially designed paper bags (supplied by the collection company at no cost) where the householder sorts his/her food scraps, plastic, metal cans and paper.

Outside the houses are sheds with larger containers - where you dispose of your kitchen bags - and also containers for newspapers, batteries, bulbs, clear glass and coloured glass. These containers are emptied at regular intervals.

Should you have larger items, you are required to carry these to a special centre where they are sorted. Every supermarket has a section where you put your bottles and aluminium cans on a little conveyor system and you get a ticket indicating your refund amount, which you can use in the store.

This system actually works quite well, and I saw a report indicating that only one per cent of refuse in Sweden ends up in a landfill. You rarely see any paper along the road and you definitely never see anybody throwing out trash from a car.

Unless the Government in Jamaica makes it easy for citizens to dispose of their garbage, you will never see a change. It also helps to promote recycling in schools.