A new tipping floor” will allow Waste Management Agency workers to store collected trash for recycling, compacting and shipping off island.
The Susannaberg Transfer Station
When it comes to disposing of waste material on St. John, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
First, the good news: Construction of a 2,500 square foot concrete slab — known as a “tipping floor”— is in its final stages at the Susannaberg Transfer Station, according to Stella Saunders, Communications Manager at the Waste Management Authority.
When trash collection trucks come in to the landfill, workers will unload the bins on the tipping floor and sort out non-compactible items, such as tires and construction debris. The compactible material will then be put in a compactor which can hold what’s comparable to three bins of trash, and once it’s processed, the waste will be transport by truck and barge to the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas.
“This will provide more efficient service, reduce the number of barge bins, and result in cost savings over time,” Saunders said.
Meanwhile, V.I. Recycling, the scrap metal contractor for the territory, has been steadily chipping away at the pile of scrap metal that has accumulated at the Susannaberg Landfill.
The company, which rotates among the three major islands, was on St. John in March and has been back on island since the middle of May. The company picks up everything from refrigerators to cars, crushing, compacting, and transporting it all to Miami, Florida for recycling.
In July 2013, more than 900 tons of scrap metal was removed from the Susannaberg Landfill, according to Mario Leonard, director of solid waste for the WMA. Saunders could not say what the total tonnage or cost will be this year until the job is completed. The estimated cost is $20,000, she said.
And now for the bad news: Residents have been noticing that bags of aluminum cans they have been dropping at the bin sites are piling up.
That’s because the grant that was given to the St. John Community Foundation to conduct a can recycling program ran out in 2013. “Due to budget cutbacks and austerity measures, the grant ended,” Saunders explained.
“Waste Management has been assisting in the recycling when we have the manpower and the time available,” she said. “We’re only doing it as a good corporate citizen. Technically, the organization should have taken it over when the grant ended.”
Saunders described the program as very time and labor intensive because someone must go through the bags to make sure they contain only aluminum cans.
On St. Thomas, several schools participate in a can recycling program, and WMA provides transport of the cans to the recyclers. On St. Croix, the Boys and Girls Club collects cans and sells them to recyclers for around 25 cents per pound. “They do everything. We provide, as a courtesy, a collection site,” Saunders said.
Saunders said that the can situation “is very problematic,” but “The Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations have grants available that can assist. There’s a website called grants.org. It’s a matter of going on the website and doing the research,” she said.
Another challenge for the Waste Management Authority is the removal of used tires that have been left at bin sites or along road sides. There’s a small mountain of used tires at the Susannaberg Landfill now.
“We do not have the funding for tire removal and disposal,” said Saunders flatly. “You’re offered the opportunity when you buy a new tire to pay a small disposal fee. Tires are to be returned to where you purchased them.”
The problem exists on all three islands. “We have taken 250,000 tires from the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix, and that’s only a quarter of what’s there. There are almost a million at the Bovoni Landfill,” she added.
“The government and the Waste Management Authority cannot provide all of these services. It behooves community groups to find ways to provide these services that are so desperately needed,” Saunders said. She added that there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide recycling services to the community.