The Cahill project might be a thing of the past, but the Freundel Stuart administration has not abandoned the idea of a waste to energy plant on the island.
In fact, Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe today warned that Barbados “cannot fully develop without the inclusion of waste to energy technology”, as he piloted a resolution on the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study at Parliament.
Lamenting that Barbados had become “ a throw-away society”, he sounded a warning that if citizens continued their current consumption patterns the island would soon reach a point where there would be no physical landscape to accommodate its waste.
“We are consuming behind our capacity to manage the waste that we are producing,” Lowe said, insisting that a waste to energy plant was the best alternative to address the challenge “because we do not have the land space for landfills, but not only that landfills produce the majority of green-house gases”.
Back in May, Government bowed to public pressure and abandoned the proposed $700 million Cahill waste to energy project which was to be based at Vaucluse, St Thomas.
Lowe had explained back then that the project was halted after events in London and other places revealed that waste-to-energy operations and plasma gasification projects had significant flaws.
Today, Lowe, seemingly still stung by the bitter opposition to the project, said: “When we started to talk about waste to energy there were those who sounded forth the nuggets of nothingness on the issue of waste to energy.”
However, he made it clear that Government recognized it must have the best technological advantage and best designs in this regard, and hinted that once this was achieved a waste to energy plant could still be on the cards.
“Suffice it to say that once the Government accelerates along the continuum of its rules and regulations, the provision of a waste to energy plant at Vaucluse . . . that is the only way,” he said urging those with “a viable waste to energy idea” that they can fund to approach the Government.
Lowe made it clear that the Government would not go the route of developing any more landfills, describing the Greenland landfill as a disaster.
“We threw over a $100 million in there [Greenland landfill]. It is a useless place for the purpose which the last administration wanted.
“And I know also the entanglement of that Greenland project and the SBRC [Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre],” Lowe claimed as he lashed out at the Williams Industries-owned waste processing plant established in early 2008 to receive and process the waste previously being received at the Mangrove landfill.
“A $30 million millstone around the neck of the Government and every time it raises its ugly head you have people trying to blame the Government for that fiasco,” Lowe said.
The minister stressed that Barbados had to take control of its waste problem and made it clear that citizens must take responsibility for the accumulation of waste on the island.
He suggested that a large amount of the waste was being generated by businesses, and proposed that they should foot the bill for the collection of their garbage.
“Do you know that a large amount of waste collected free of cost around this county is generated by business houses – restaurants – they put out enormous bags of garbage and sometimes when you collect garbage from a business house you hardly have room for household garbage.
“I am of the view that business houses who are making money should be asked to pay something for the collection of their waste. It is not Government’s position yet, but I hope to campaign [for] it,” Lowe said.
He stressed that it was not fair for the public to expect Government to chase down their garbage and called on the private sector, civil society and the church to partner with the Sanitation Service Authority and the Solid Waste Management Unit to encourage Barbadians to engage in recycling and other good waste management practices.