M&CC investing in large scale composting to generate revenue

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A view of the composting site

The Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) says it will be undertaking a municipal composting project, which the Council is expecting, to significantly boost its revenue generating capacity.

According to the M&CC, in addition to the financial benefit, the project, which should take off in early July, will likely see the reduction in the wanton disposal of organic waste in the city and the expansion of the life of the sanitary landfill.

It is being spearheaded by Sanitation Director at the Georgetown Municipality, Walter Narine with groundwork set to begin after the council’s 2017 budget is read and with the requisite approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Inews was informed that the project will initially target two municipal markets; Stabroek and Bourda and hopefully, will be used as a model by the other municipalities in the very near future.

“When we would have examined the two markets; we realized that they generate on a daily basis, 25 metric tons of food waste. These are perishable cash crops which were not sold and the vendors would have discarded and tossed them out,” Narine explained.

He related that these are the types of waste that reach the landfill on a daily basis and their intention is to take 25 tons of food waste and convert it into a municipal compost.

Narine revealed that the compost would then be marketed as manure/fertilizer at a minimal cost to the National Agricultural Research Extension Institute (NAREI), which is one of the primary targets, as well as to cash crop farmers.

According to Narine, “we’re the only country that throws away everything.” He noted that converting 70 metric tons of waste in two cycles per year into fertilizer will generate a significant amount of revenue for the Council.

The Sanitation Director said that the project will cost $28 million is the capital investment, with the potential returns in first year being around $10 million minus expenses.

“It has huge revenue generating potential of $87M annually utilizing waste from only two markets” Narine asserted.

Sanitation Director Walter Narine

Guyana has been having a plethora of issues in terms of entering the export market with cash crops. One of the main reasons for this is the standard requirement by international trade for crops to be free from pesticides.

“So, if we can utilise the compost, it will benefit the farmers greatly who have aspirations of doing business on the export market,” Narine detailed.

He pointed out that apart from the financial gain which the council will garner from the composting project, it is also likely to see the expansion of the lifespan of the sanitary landfill at Haags Bosch.

In a report compiled by Habeeb Khan on the composition of waste, it was highlighted that 50 percent of all waste generated in Georgetown was organic waste.

Given this reality, coupled with the fact that Haags Bosch has a life span of 15 years, Narine said that everyone stands to benefit should at least 30 percent of that waste be diverted from the landfill. This, he noted, will also reduce operational costs since moving organic waste to Haags Bosch stands at a monthly high of $1.2M.

Apart from the market waste, the compost will also include vegetation that grows on the road shoulders, sawdust, trimmed tree branches and weeds.

As it relates to the sawdust, Narine pointed out that it creates a huge problem due to its incendiary properties.

“Because when it’s stalked up in high piles, then the heat it generates within; it can easily ignite and causes big fires at the landfill. So, we can take the sawdust also the waste that pigs produce; this is highly fertile and it is dumped everyday so we will use the cow, pig and horse manure and create a true collective of the organics,” the Sanitation Director said.

The raw material will reportedly be processed daily in a fenced area by municipal employees at the Princes Street facility.

M&CC says the project, in its initial phase, should provide employment for 25 persons from nearby communities to operate and manage the compost.

“We are very excited to have this project come to fruition. We have bins already at the markets so vendors will dispose of their waste there and then we will have them transported to the site,”

According to Narine, in the long term, “I would eventually like to see households bringing their food scraps to the municipal compost and we pay them for it. Schools can also get involved with kitchen gardens which they sell on market day to generate revenue.”

Georgetown Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green, in endorsing the project, said it falls in line with government’s green agenda and the push towards a green economy.

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