Friday, July 19, 2024

SPTC plans on tackling the island’s ongoing garbage problem

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The improper disposal of garbage on the island has been a long-standing issue. Multiple clean-up campaigns have been done in the past, but the problem persists. To continue tackling the problem, the new San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is committed to an island-wide, extensive, and thorough clean-up campaign with the idea of involving all key stakeholders on the island. The SPTC now plans to enforce existing regulations, including but not limited to the construction debris storage/disposal method currently practiced on the island.

Current Garbage Situation

On Friday, January 28th, the SPTC announced this new initiative and called on all businesses to do their part and keep their surroundings clean, dispose of garbage properly and secure garbage bins from stray animals and the elements. Another issue discussed was the debris disposal and storage of both active and inactive construction sites. Contractors are to keep this debris on site and dispose of it promptly.

Additionally, streets and beaches are not be used to store disposed of construction debris. Several SPTC departments will help monitor and report any breaches to enforce this new regulation.

Past cleaning efforts

From 2016 to 2018, the previous town council led a few cleaning campaigns. In June 2016, a subdivided cleaning program was launched as part of the Child-Friendly Municipalities of Belize movement. One of the aims was to eliminate breeding areas for mosquitoes that may transmit vector diseases. The campaign continued for the following months, but the issue remained as illegal dumping continued.

In November 2018, the San Pedro chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (SP BTIA), along with the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (now ACES Wildlife Rescue), and the SPTC organized an ambitious four-day clean-up effort collecting thousands of pounds of garbage. The aim was to target different areas across town, but one particular area, the San Pedrito Highway, was choked with rubbish and needed a lot of attention. Although an army of dedicated and hardworking people took on the challenge, tons of garbage remained along this road. The local government did little to enforce the “No Dumping” policy following the clean-up.

These volunteer groups, such as the SP BTIA and ACES Wildlife Rescue, have made it their task to host clean-ups, even in the waterways where tons of garbage was removed. Other organizations helping to clean La Isla Bonita include Oceana Belize, individuals and business partners like The Phoenix, Xsite Belize Sailing and Adventures, and neighborhood watch groups. These initiatives clean up polluted areas and raise awareness of the harmful effects of illegal and improper garbage disposal on the environment. The improper disposal of garbage, particularly illegal dumping, has resulted in unsightly litter across large portions of the island, polluting water systems while marring the island’s natural beauty and threatening the health of the fragile marine environment.

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