In last week’s column, Hon. Mayor Efraim M. Atalig shared that one of the greatest challenges in Rota’s solid waste collection and disposal processes is the island’s lack of commercial trash collection services. Unfortunately, the same is true for our beautiful island of Tinian. Our current waste disposal practices include residents and businesses hauling their trash to either the “green waste” site or the landfill. However, some of our residents don’t have cars to be able to transport their trash to the dump, so they have to depend on their family members or friends to help them. This is usually done weekly, which means that residents spend a lot of time handling their garbage.
The Universal Garbage Collection system will improve the overall quality of life on Tinian by providing a service that collects, sorts, and disposes of garbage for residents and businesses. It will save our residents the time it takes to handle their waste and the resources it takes to be able to do so.
Very often, the Mayor’s Office staff will find residential garbage dumped in public trash bins, drum cans, and even the jungle by the beaches. Although our staff is not responsible for picking up trash from private properties, we collect about a truckload of trash from public spaces every Monday after residents enjoy their weekends at the parks. Cleaning up garbage takes up valuable time that we could use to accomplish other meaningful projects in our community. There have been instances when we had to cite businesses for illegal dumping.
Litter has the potential to cause harm to human health, safety, welfare, as well as the environment. The harmful impact of litter includes trapping or poisoning animals, killing aquatic life directly through choking and indirectly through its impact on water quality. Littering is a fire hazard, and it attracts and provides an incubation area for pests and rodents.
From an environmental position, a UGC system on Tinian will deter illegal dumping in our beaches, jungles, and public trash bins. Some people throw hazardous materials, green waste, and large household goods where they shouldn’t because it’s the most convenient way to get rid of them from their homes. This poses a great risk to our health, environment, and natural resources.
A UGC system will manage the impact on our environment and ensure that hazardous waste materials are disposed of properly. The ongoing military activities will also benefit from having a UGC system on Tinian, as they are continuously looking for ways to get rid of their waste more efficiently and conveniently.
UGC will provide a well-thought-out plan to properly collect, sort, upcycle, recycle, and compost waste to reduce the amount that will end up in our landfill. We need to implement a long-term plan to manage our waste for generations to come.
Above all this, a UGC system will promote a more beautiful and enjoyable experience on Tinian—one that is without litter and the flies that come with it! However, keeping Tinian clean is not a responsibility left only for UGC and the government agencies. It is our responsibility as a community to take a proactive approach when it comes to cleaning up after ourselves at home and in public spaces. It is also our responsibility to keep our island free from illegal dumping. We can’t say we want to keep our island clean and become a world-class destination if we don’t do our part as residents to take care of and protect our island.
The conveniences, safety assurances, and the decrease in health risks are some of the immediate benefits of an implemented UGC system, and Tinian is ready to take this next step to improve the quality of life for its residents.
For more information about the Universal Garbage Collection initiative, visit the GCEA website at cnmieconomy.com. Engage with the UGC Task Force via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edwin Aldan is the 14th mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan. He has served the Marianas for several years as a police officer, representative, and member of the Tinian Municipal Council. Aldan is committed to leading the mission to foster safety, cleanliness, and equal opportunity for all residents.