“In this country we can go from garbage chaos to the solid waste industry”
Municipalities, environment, and the LMD are working on the comprehensive management of solid waste
SANTO DOMINGO. The country can go from a state of permanent vulnerability due to the deficiencies in the collection and final disposal of garbage, to the possibility of creating an industry which would generate yearly exports of hundreds of millions of dollars.
This is the concept of the coordinator of environmental policies of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Domingo Contreras, as he stated during the Dialogo Libre, sponsored by the Diario Libre Group, that in order to reach this goal they need a law of comprehensive management of solid waste, and it has to be applied. “We can go from the garbage chaos, to the solid waste industry,” said the official. He revealed that in spite of the nonexistence of a judicial framework, “surprisingly in the country an industrial base of foreign capital and Dominican companies has been established which demands material from almost all the branches of industry.” These initiatives, according to the secretary-general of the Dominican Municipal League (LMD), Johnny Jones, represented exports valued at US$23 million, and they only represented 7% of the total garbage which Dominicans deposited in the dumps at Duquesa, in Greater Santo Domingo, and Rafey, in Santiago, and another 346 refuse dumps disseminated all around the country. Jones estimates that “if we were to raise this to 50% of the total slid waste, we would be speaking of an important item of the economy.”
In this order, the president of the Dominican Federation of Municipalities (FEDOMU), Juan de los Santos, admitted that while they’re waiting for the law to be approved, “the reality is that in our country they are not giving the right treatment to solid waste,” which is the reason that some 13,000 tons of garbage a day are dumped in areas that could be dedicated to farming and others are dumped near sources of water.
De los Santos, who is also the mayor of East Santo Domingo, said: “We know that a problem exists regarding the issue of garbage, but a comprehensive application is needed, that requires several elements in order that can be taken care of. We need a general law of comprehensive management of the solid wastes, which is still in Congress.” He said he felt that with the legal framework, “initiatives and projects will come that will permit garbage to be converted into an industry that creates wealth and employment.”
Delos Santos indicated that when the law is approved they will be able to attend the issue of dump sites which are ignored at the present time, “since it is not only the collection which is a problem, there is a fiscal issue, because there is no culture of payment. We have to create the corresponding markets so that those who want to produce those materials can sell them, and also provide fiscal incentives in order for the companies that generate merchandise to have an extended responsibility of the product.” Contreras added “there will also be sanctions on businessmen because in no society, if you generate contaminating materials may they be thrown just any place,” and there will also be sanctions for the ayuntamientos, “because garbage collection cannot be a voluntary act of the mayors. Because of this there was the intervention in the municipality of San Cristobal, which is the example of the construction of a new institutionalism,” he said.
Jones said that there exists an agreement among ayuntamientos, who want the law, the government, the business community and the media who are supporting the legislative proposal. “We are at a very opportune moment, because they are creating and coming together in order to give garbage treatment that which it requires, with the aim of not reproducing the situation that we have,” he decreed.
The East Santo Domingo model
Mayor Juan de los Santos, said that in the municipality of East Santo Domingo they are carrying out pilot plans of separating the solid waste at the source, within residential areas. “In the Ensanche Ozama, in Alma Rosa, in the Italia sector they are carrying out these plans, with the aim of beginning to create an awareness of the importance of the separation of solid waste and the reality is that the program is going forward. There are people who resist,” said De los Santos. He adds: “In addition to the fact that citizens complained that they have to find different bags, the reality is that there is a willingness of the citizens to separate the refuse.”
The ayuntamientos have to learn what San Jose de las Matas did with their garbage
The secretary-general of the Municipal League assured the editors and writers of Diario Libre that the municipality of San Jose de las Matas (Sajoma) has been a successful case of empowerment of the people in recycling and, it is his understanding, that the problem of garbage will be resolved in the country if the other municipalities will copy them.
“In Sajoma, the people took this over, and they feel proud. If what happened there could be replicated, the solution in the whole country regarding the garbage would take less than four years,” said Jones.
Domingo Contreras explained that the Sajoma system consists in separating the refuse at the source, where every family has two garbage barrels, one for organic and another for inorganic materials.
“The Ayuntamiento picks up the inorganic garbage and sells it to private companies, and the organic refuse has been used in building compost piles (making fertilizer), and what is interesting is that many families keep the organic refuse in order to make fertilizer, and use it in their gardens,” explained the official.
Contreras narrated that this was generated from the school. “They have worked with the children. In the schools they are handing out stickers to the children in whose homes they are recycling. This generates a situation where a child who doesn’t have a sticker means that his or her family are not cooperating in the cleanup of the city, and that produces the change. The truth is, you go to San Jose de las Matas, and the changes are evident,” he stated.
April 27, 2015
Category: DR News |