One of the country’s most vocal exponents of sustainable environmental practices is suggesting the $1.50 per day Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) levy imposed on households is far from punitive enough to force Barbadians to better manage refuse.
The Future Centre Trust (FCT) said the tax measure was laudable, but it wants authorities to increase it to up to $5, though not immediately.
“The $1.50 a day is a good action because the polluter should pay, but I go a step further to say that it does not treat to waste diversion or waste reduction. Therefore, if we continue to generate so much waste in our country somebody has to pay for the landfilling,” Public Relations Officer Kammie Holder told Barbados TODAY.
“I see within short order, within the next five to ten years, that that $1.50 a day should become at least $5,” Holder stressed, while adding that “I would have loved to have seen that we don’t only charge $1.50 but incentives would have been put in place where we sought to embrace recycling as well as the circular economy where that old water bottle becomes a water goblet and our green waste is being used into mulch or something like that”.
In her June 11 mini Budget, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley announced that the new GSC would be levied through the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) as at August 1, with $1.25 going towards the Sanitation Services Authority (SSA) for garbage collection while 25 cents is retained by the BWA.
Commercial entities will pay 50 per cent of their water bill, half of which will go to the SSA and the remainder to the BWA “to offset the operational costs of the sewerage systems”.
Holder said the tax should be accompanied by legislation to force people to separate their waste for recycling, reuse or export.
“Unless it is legislatively supported it does not work because by nature humans are lazy in terms of behavioural change and no one embraces changes readily because we resist what we don’t know. So I am saying if we had the legislative support Barbadians will have no choice but to comply. A Barbadian will leave Barbados today and would go to some foreign country and are told they have to recycle and separate their waste and they would,” he said.
“So if we embrace the circular economy we can save foreign currency and we can also earn some foreign currency because what we throw as garbage can then be exported as raw material,” he explained.
Holder said Barbadians were “often well-intentioned” when it came to protecting the environment but there was a lack of political will and financing to support green champions, while lamenting that “too many initiatives that are supposed to be green are lacking funding”.
“Until such time we will just be spinning top in the mud and we will be a massive importer rather than an exporter of technologies and raw material,” he said.