SWMCOL: World Bank's calculations off; we're not the worst in the world for waste

Friday, March 11, 2016 - 00:00

The Solid Waste Management Company Limited is garbaging claims that this country is the worst in the world per capita where solid waste is concerned.

SWMCOL says the World Bank miscalculated the figures that caused it to come to that conclusion.

The following is SWMCOL's statement:

"The Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) wishes to clarify information circulating in the media about this country’s waste generation.

We were first made aware of the error following a documentary, “The Big Picture with Kal Penn” that aired on National Geographic’s cable channel in April 2015, one that cast a cruel spotlight on Trinidad & Tobago as the world’s largest daily producer of waste. SWMCOL realized immediately that someone somewhere had got their facts very wrong. As manager of Trinidad’s three (3) landfills we would need several more landfills to cope with waste of that magnitude.

Our investigation led us to the organization that supplied the waste generation data to the World Bank – PAHO/WHO. The World Bank’s 2012 publication: “What a Waste – A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” claims to have sourced their data from PAHO’s 2005 Report on the Regional Evaluation of Municipal Solid Waste Management Services in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Although PAHO’s 2005 report is accurate, the World Bank made an inadvertent miscalculation when they divided Trinidad & Tobago’s total daily waste of 2082 metric tonnes (2,082,000 kgs) by a total urban population of 144,645 rather than by the country’s total population of 1.4M. The more realistic and accurate figure is 1.5kgs (3.2 lbs) per person per day.

Our findings were reported to PAHO/WHO Trinidad & Tobago who confirmed that the World Bank’s data is wrong and have been actively pursuing a correction on behalf of this country.

While we dislike the negative publicity brought about by these erroneous reports, particularly as it affects the image of our country, the concern that has been awakened by hundreds of individuals regarding the current state of waste management is certainly a positive outcome. SWMCOL will continue its public education efforts and work with local government to develop improved waste collection strategies, and continue to urge every citizen to be more proactive at reducing, reusing and/or recycling their waste."

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