By Verne Burnett
May 12, 2015 – newsday.co.tt
THE authorities who deal with waste disposal in this country say that a documentary broadcast last week on the National Geographic (NatGeo) Channel, naming this country as the top producer of garbage per capita in the world, was based on incorrect statistics.
An official at the Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL), who refused to be named or quoted, said the programme was based on outdated statistics probably obtained from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The spokesperson said SWMCOL was in the process of gathering updated figures to submit to PAHO, then attempted to withdraw those comments and substitute them with “no comment.” Natgeo itself reportedly said it use statistics obtained from a World Bank Report “What a waste — A Global Review of Solid Waste Management Data.”
The programme, The Big Picture, debuted on the NatGeo channel last week and reported on the countries in the world which produce the most garbage. It said that because of the large size of the country, China was the largest producer of garbage with 418 billion pounds per year.
However, when broken down on a per capita basis, Trinidad and Tobago, because of its small size, came out as the largest producer of garbage per capita in the world. According to the programme, each person in TT produces 32 pounds of garbage per day.
Although they didn’t have any statistics of their own, staff at SWMCOL doubted this could be true.
One employee said PAHO, or whatever agency supplied the statistics, probably based their count on the garbage brought to the country’s landfills, but observed that not all garbage is dumped in landfills.
Indeed, waste disposal authorities said yesterday the figure quoted in the NatGeo report was hopelessly exaggerated and the correct figure is closer to 1.5 kilogrammes per person per day and not the 32 pounds of garbage per person mentioned in the report. “There is no way on earth one person could produce that much waste in a day,” the source said.