Message from the Chairman

 Message from the Chairman

 

Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

 boardchair

It is the dawn of a new era at the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), and as Chairman of the Board of Directors - a position I officially began in January 2017 - I am honored to be part of the transformation. It is a mindset change, a change in the way we view “trash” and a change in the way we approach “waste.” Our goal is to move toward a zero waste system while educating and engaging the community so that they too change their thinking and behaviors.

 

You may be thinking: “What is so exciting about trash?” I have long been involved in green issues, sustainability and fostering environmental resiliency. It is a passion of mine and something I care about deeply. I accepted the governor’s invitation to join the VIWMA board because I saw immense potential in turning the territory’s useable “waste” into a valuable RESOURCE and reducing the generation of non-reusable, non-compostable trash. I am looking forward to being part of the transition as we move toward a zero-waste strategy.

 

Make no mistake - there are serious issues threatening the USVI. We face major environmental challenges including the looming 2020 closure of our near-capacity landfills, toxic storm water run-off, and a lack of viable recycling and composting options. Storm water run-off causes our beaches to close and adds toxins to the food chain. Garbage is strewn throughout our islands and on our coastlines. Plastic floats in our waterways. Fish and other marine life wash ashore after ingesting and suffocating on plastic.

 

We need to think in terms of resource management vs. waste management. The introduction of Governor Mapp’s recycling legislation, including a ban on plastic checkout bags and proposed container deposit and source separation/composting laws go far toward this goal. Education is key. When the public views their “trash” as having value, they will be more mindful and dispose of it with appropriate care. Hence we are in the resource-management business. Engaging our schoolchildren and parents, the community, non-profit organizations, environmentalists, businesses, etc. ensures that we are all part of the solution. We all have a stake and ownership.

 

Awareness and understanding of source reduction go along with this and are crucial. Ask yourself before you acquire something: “Do I want it or do I need it?” And always consider reusing or repurposing items when possible. There is also tremendous food waste in our territory. We need to ensure that healthy, unused food items are going to those who are hungry rather than in the trash.

 

We are a small island territory and given our limited landmass, we are much more vulnerable than mainland USA. How we handle our “waste” is critical to our very existence.

 

After an exhaustive nationwide search, we recently appointed a new Executive Director of VIWMA. Please join the board of directors in welcoming Mr. Roger Merritt. With an engineering degree and an MBA in finance, coupled with his vast experience in the industry, he is well-equipped for the job at hand and is already building a team of dedicated professionals who will serve the territory with the same passion and zeal he exudes.

 

Every single associate at VIWMA is vital to our success. We invite you to embrace the new leadership and vision and join the journey hand-in-hand toward a zero waste strategy.

 

Mr. Roger Merritt and the board of directors have an open door policy. We invite your ideas and feedback. Let’s think out of the box - outside of the landfill, I should say - and treat our “trash” a valuable commodity.

 

Together, let’s make the USVI one of the greenest island territories internationally and a model for the world.

 

Harith Wickrema

Chairman,

VI Waste Management Authority

About VIWMA

St. Croix (340) 712-4962

St. Thomas (340)715-9100

St. John (340)774-2141

Territory Hotline - 1 (844) WMA - USVI

©2017 Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority. All Rights Reserved.

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