The Government of Saint Lucia in collaboration with the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology is reviewing options to turn the island’s trash into fuel—particularly the used tires that have accumulated at the island’s landfills over the past eight years.
Chairman of the Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority (SLSWMA), and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Sylvester Clauzel, said that the ministry is currently deliberating with a UK-based organization to craft a solution for transforming waste material into energy.
“We have begun discussions with the Carbon War Room (CWR), to implement a solution that will convert shredded tires and other waste into electricity,” he said.
Founded by Sir Richard Branson, also the founder of the Virgin group of companies, the Carbon War Room is an independent nonprofit that accelerates the adoption of business solutions to reduce carbon emissions and advance a low-carbon economy.
Clauzel said the use of discarded tires to create fuel will have a twofold effect.
[Tire-derived fuel] “will bring in much needed revenue, and significantly extend the life of Saint Lucia’s landfills by reducing the volume of material. We view this as an urgent matter and will utilize all resources toward making it a priority,” he said.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), scrap tires produce the same amount of energy as oil and 25 percent more energy than coal. They are used as fuel because of their high heating value. In 2003, 130 million scrap tires were converted to about 45 percent of all generated fuel in the US, an increase from about 26 million tires which generated 10 percent of fuel in 1991.
In Saint Lucia, however, there have been setbacks. The Minister for Sustainable Development, Dr. James Fletcher, detailed those in his 2013-2014 Annual Report.
“The island’s waste disposal challenges are due to the lack of adequate financing for the upgrade of the electrical system at Deglos to facilitate the tire shredder and reactivation of the autoclave,” the report stated.
The stockpile of tires in the landfill occurred following the breakdown of two smaller tire shredders. In 2012, the SLSWMA purchased a new, high-capacity shredder, but the installation required costly adjustments for which the Authority was not able to allocate the necessary funding.
To this end, Mr. Clauzel said the authority is currently in negotiations to obtain an advance of funds. The funding will be put toward improvements and repairs of the electrical systems at Deglos that will allow for the operation of the new shredder.
The new shredder, Clauzel said, will reduce the stockpile at both the Vieux Fort and Deglos landfills to a mass that will no longer pose a public health hazard, as the disposal of scrap tires in piles poses a fire risk, and creates habitats for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes.
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