The idea of “waste-to-energy” is truly an endearing one to my heart, and one that could potentially contribute to the growth and development of our wonderful and glorious country, Guyana; especially now that we have a fully democratic Government of the people, by the people, for the people.
In my view, our Government, with its current leadership of our nation and peoples, is truly the work of the Universal Creator. This team, combined with the leadership of the world at large, who all played a pivotal role in saving our democracy, democratic norms, and the sanity of our people from the obvious hands of tyrannical persons in despotic hunger for power and personal aggrandisement, is nothing short of admiration and applause.
Editor, the point of this missive is to highlight the principles of “waste-to-energy.” Waste-to-energy is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity from the primary treatment of waste. It is something that could revolutionise our country. My goal here is not to browbeat our Government to go for the model that my colleagues have proposed, but to go for what is best for Guyana. I have done a variety of studies on this industry, and I can proudly say that this initiative would eliminate most of our garbage problems.
As is well known, the garbage situation in our country is not only dangerous, but the eyesore is unfavourable to our tourism. Our cities, like Georgetown, Corriverton, New Amsterdam, and others, not only smell, but it makes us look uncultured, unrefined, and not ready for serious growth and development to become a First or Second World country.
In one of my previous articles, “Man: the destroyer of its own habitat,” published in various print media on January 17th, 2021, I indicated that man is the only creature on earth that intentionally destroys his/her own environment on which he/she depends for survival. As a follow-up to the aforementioned article, this article serves to educate my fellow Guyanese about how waste can be turned into energy, and how it can help our people to handle our personal garbage more efficiently.
Editor, Mr. President, the Government of Guyana, friends and families, it is unfortunate that we currently manage our waste to destroy our environment, the health of our people, and our natural, blessed freshwater resources that are the elixir of life. Transmission to energy is not typically a lucrative undertaking, such as the purchasing of electricity from an electrical power supplier. However, the goal of this project is to remove trash/garbage with minimal air contaminants that will in no way impact human life, animals, or life in general. The electricity is a by-product of scientific combustion that removes, as we know, waste and/or garbage. This concept, which is not known by most people, also includes the removal of slush that blocks sewer and drainage systems. All this slush is useful money in the waste-to-energy principle.
Once we have a system for collecting plastics, vegetable waste with paper and wood waste will be collected separately, and segregated in the process of conversion. All grass cut in the botanical gardens and elsewhere can be part of this energy. Rice husks can be used as well as plantain and banana suckers, and every other possible green object can be easily converted.
Cardboard boxes, sawmill dust that is all deposited in our oceans, damaging our beaches and making us look amateurish and not ready for growth by destroying our ecosystem, will be removed. All of this would add to the cocktail of rubbish to be consumed by the factory. One of the by-products of this energy conversion is compost, which could lead to additional revenue.
At this time, I implore our Guyanese people to handle their waste more efficiently. I will give my own personal example: In my home, we try to ensure that all of our waste paper, including used newspapers, scrap paper, waste stationery, and waste that would normally be burned, along with our grass cutting, the waste leaves of banana trees, fruit and vegetable leaves, skins, onion skins, and even hair and fingernails, when all is cut, all go into our compost bin. This is then turned into useful fertilizer, which is so rich and costs nothing. When well-managed, it creates a fertiliser called compost, which contains nutrients so rich that if you do not combine it with another substance, it could burn the plants. Rice husks or earth, for example, can be mixed in equal parts and placed around the roots of the plant. In simpler terms, one bag of earth and one bag of rice husks can be mixed to one bag of compost, so as to dilute its strength. You can build up any kind of old poultry pen, throw it under a tree or shade, or collect in a bin, and after a while, you can begin to see dark soil at the bottom. It is called humus, and it could be used by itself for cultivation, gardening, and environmental protection. It must be noted also that weeds do not typically grow on compost.
The compost must be kept damp, and holes must be punched into the compost to allow air to circulate and excess water to drain. This keeps the temperature ideal for composting to occur.
I pointed out above that our garbage, when turned into this valuable by-product of electricity, would not be as inexpensive to sell as if one were buying electricity from a company that produces electricity, while at the same time polluting the atmosphere with its gas emissions. This is where the profitability lies. The money saved from waste management, burning, and damaging of our environment would be an incentive for waste-to-energy investment.
It must be noted that it is difficult to expect a foreign investor to spend all this money to get rid of our garbage, on which we spend tens of millions of dollars a year, and expect them to fund all of them, and then hand it over to the Government of Guyana after twenty years. I do not think this is right and proper. My understanding, also, is that tendering for such a supplier would attract some countries that are known to tender below the cost and offer poor quality goods, facilities, and warranties, while the Government of Guyana would be left with large white elephants, so to speak, as we have seen with our huge glass factory years ago and the Skeldon Sugar Estate.
At this juncture, I thank the Government of Guyana for seeing my colleagues from South Korea and me, and I ask them to think wisely about this initiative. I am also proud of the Government’s vision and determination for a gas-to-shore project that would undoubtedly change all lives for the better of our country, while making us more prosperous.
Roshan Khan Snr