Saba reduces waste burning to a minimum

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SABA — Another milestone has been reached at Saba’s waste management facility: the burning of residue household waste, reduced to a small amount due to extensive sorting and recycling, has been stopped.

Since the end of November last year, no household waste is being burned as this is now also being exported, Commissioner of Infrastructure Bruce Zagers proudly announced on Wednesday. The residue waste is placed in containers and shipped to the US and processed in a waste-to-energy plant in Florida. The only waste stream that has been burned once a week for the last two months consists of wood and medical waste.

The Public Entity Saba is exploring ways to further reduce the frequency of burning by acquiring a commercial wood chipper. The chipped wood can then be used as mulch. This would leave only a very small amount of medical waste that needs to be burned since it cannot be exported.

Until a few years ago, all waste streams ended up at the landfill to be burned without any kind of separation. This unmanaged situation led to uncontrolled fires, the creation of mosquito breeding areas and an infestation of flies. Most impacted by the burning were the residents and school children in St. John’s and The Bottom.

Since that time, many steps have been taken, sizeable investments were made with funding from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) to improve the processing of waste. A lot of progress was made after the recycling facility started in 2015. Over time, as more waste was separated and recycled, the frequency of burning was reduced, with burning taking place in the air-burner in a controlled environment. The Public Entity Saba accomplished many improvements with its partner in waste processing management, Cadwell INC company in Florida. Cadwell also facilitated the training of personnel to implement a more thorough separation of waste.

Major improvements were realized since 2021, initially under the previous waste management manager, Coulton Johnson, and since 2022 under the new manager, Camilo Usuga. “The team at the landfill and the collectors have also shown their commitment to working towards these improvements and because of their efforts, we have achieved these results,” said Commissioner Zagers.

The results are remarkable: last year Saba processed and exported a record number of 50 shipping containers with recyclables to the US for further processing. “Waste that would have been burned only a few years ago,” said Zagers.