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Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:15

The Unique Waste Management Requirements of Small Island Regions

Written by  Clyde Falzon
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 A viable facility requires sufficient land area that further takes from the limited available land space of islands. Unfortunately waste treatment facilities suffer from undesired public perception that encourages planners to locate such facilities outside the housing estates. Even large countries that have acres of land resources suffer from the ‘Not in My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) syndrome when it comes to the siting of waste treatment facilities. Obviously when the land resources are limited the NIMBY syndrome increases significantly. This leads to increased difficultly in constructing waste treatment facilities with the compromise of the general public.

When manufacturing industries are located in close proximity to the waste source, part of the waste might integrated directly into the recycling systems to produce recycled materials and/or renewable energy. However, on small size islands is really rare to find significant industries that integrate waste back into the production systems. Thus alternative management systems shall be established.

Unfortunately in this sector short term solutions might seem easier and cheaper. A case in point is the reliance of many islands on landfilling. Although this is a cheap solution, it occupies a significant land area and disrupts the pristine environment that most islands are famous for. This includes archeological areas, beaches, forests and garigue zones amongst other areas. Thus alternative and long term solutions should be utilized.

At this point scenario planning is a useful tool to introduce Integrated Solid Waste Management Systems on islands. Ways and means shall be investigated of how waste can be directly integrated into the recycling mechanisms and used again into the manufacturing of materials for new products. Such mechanisms shall ideally be accompanied by the best practicable environmental option. In this case a balance is required between environmental harm and economic issues for each proposed scenario.

Other tools applicable to both large countries and small islands include knowledge dissemination and financial incentives. People must be informed on how to follow waste management policies and procedures. This can be achieved through school education, meetings and discussions with the public and municipality authorities or incentives to students to further specialize in the field of waste management. Emphasis shall be given on the fact that everyone is responsible for establishing a proper waste management system.

Furthermore financial incentives can be utilized to bring the community in line with the policy targets. These might include the increase of levies regarding undesired waste treatment practices and the decrease of levies related to more appropriated waste treatment practices. Another option might be to increase the waste management levies for those who do not separate their waste. Such tools can be applied according to the specific case requirements.

As can be noticed waste management planning on small islands can be more complex and harder than waste management planning in regions within mainland. Therefore, apart from following the applicable policies suggested by the EU and other organizations, waste management in islands regions shall be dealt with custom made solutions. The latter deal with the development of polices and management systems including treatment facilities based upon the specific case under study.

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