Organizations Present Plan to Reduce Waste in Landfills
San Juan, Puerto Rico – An environmental plan designed by a group composed of several organizations states that Puerto Rico could reduce or divert by 2028 approximately 50 percent of the waste that currently reaches landfills with a comprehensive strategy based on a circular economic development model.
The plan, which includes creating a Circular Generation Trust, would reduce the use of landfills and close those that do not comply with public safety and environmental protection standards. The group says the implementation of the strategy would generate more than 6,600 jobs.
“This strategic plan is a starting point to discuss how we will address the persistent problem of solid waste,” said engineer Ingrid M. Vila Biaggi, president, and co-founder of Cambio.
Vila Biaggi said Puerto Rico can lead a transformation towards a circular economy that minimizes discarded resources and maximizes local initiatives towards reducing waste, its reuse, and recycling.
The plan results from a comprehensive analysis conducted by a team specialized in waste management, community organizations, and entities dedicated to protecting the environment. The team counted with members from Cambio, Garbage Zero Puerto Rico, Center for Sustainable Community Solutions of Syracuse University, Climate Think: Institute for Climate Law and Policy, the Coalition of Municipal Recycling Coordinators, the Coalition of Anti-Incineration Organizations, Haser, Martín Peña Recicla, the Puerto Rico Recycling Partnership, Sierra Club and the Tais environmental action corporation. The Segarra Boerman Foundation subsidized the plan.
The new strategy recognizes that waste management and mitigating the impact of climate change requires all sectors of society. For this reason, it proposes creating the Trust for the Circular Generation to change to the current governance model to expand participation and ensure progress in the strategies. The plan offers a board of directors with representation from the third sector, the communities, the private sector, experts in waste management, the commonwealth government, and municipalities. The agency would coordinate strategies ensuring the transparency of processes, data, and oversight in the use of funds.
Puerto Rico generates around 8,290 tons of daily waste, equivalent to 5.19 pounds per person. This amount can produce almost 290,000 metric tons equivalent of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, according to estimates of waste deposited in 2019. It is estimated that 34% of total waste is organic and can be recycled to produce compost.
“We are wasting millions of dollars in reusable resources. Taking advantage of them will reduce the environmental footprint and produce economic opportunities for more people,” said Vanessa Uriarte, from Martín Peña Recicla.