KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 17, 2015 (AMG) — In light of the negativity surrounding the frequent and ongoing fires at the Riverton City Dump, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) released a policy brief outlining how Jamaica stands to benefit from the tonnes of waste that have been the source of much distress to the community.

The document outlined how much the Riverton fires have cost the public, the potential profits to be made from investing in waste to energy technology, as well as other benefits that the island stands to gain if waste to energy (WtE) were to be achieved.

Waste to energy is a form of energy recovery in which heat or electricity is generated from incineration of waste. But rather than polluting the atmosphere with the gases released during incineration, the gases are used to produce steam, which in turn is then converted to electricity. It is considered renewable energy since its fuel source – that is, waste – is sustainable and naturally replenished.

Cost of Riverton Fires: Financially, the fires are extinguished using millions of taxpayer’s dollars each year. As mentioned in a previous report, many persons have made complaints about the respiratory effects the fires have had – and continue to have – on their health, resulting in unforeseen medical bills and loss of productivity of persons with such health effects.

Potential financial gains: The document proposes that the waste at the Riverton Landfill can be incinerated to produce energy so that the island can reap financial benefits.  CaPRI used data from the Ministry of Energy and Mining to estimate the potential profits, including:

  • USD$143 million in one-time foreign direct investment for construction of a 35MWe plant to process 1,800 tonnes of waste per day
  • USD$3 065 million: from the sale of generated electricity
  • USD$3 059 million: pre interest, taxes depreciation and amortisation earnings

Aside from the economic benefits to the waste to energy process, CaPRI also summarized the other benefits to the new incineration method to include the creation of 200 jobs for installation operation and management of the WtE facility; an annual reduction in oil import bill by USD$37.4 million; and a general reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Along with WtE, CaPRI is recommending recycling and composting to further reduce the overall amount of waste at the landfill, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce polluted fluids from escaping into and contaminating waterways.


Jamaica generates 800 000 tonnes of residential waste annually

82% of residential waste is organic

62% of organic waste can be composted

21% of all waste generated is recyclable


Waste to Energy in the Caribbean: Jamaica would not be the first Caribbean island to invest in the waste to energy process. In the past few years, other islands have been looking into this method in an effort to alleviate the strain put on their landfills.

In 2013, Aruba signed an agreement to begin working on its first waste to energy project as a part of its 2020 vision to be fully independent of fossil fuels. This project will significantly reduce the volume of waste at Aruba’s landfill while also providing the island with alternative energy.

The Government of The Bahamas also confirmed plans in July 2014 to erect a waste to energy plant at one of its landfills. According to the letter of intent, the plant will cost between USD$625 – 675 million and will generate an approximated 2 500 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs in the future. This project is expected to take two years to be completed.

On the island of Nevis, a USD$20 million deal was signed in August 2014 to construct a waste to energy plant. The plant will use domestic and commercial waste, as well as recyclables, organics and other material to provide a source of energy and to relieve the island’s only disposal site at Long Point. This project is expected to take 12 months to be completed.

Waste to energy is a common practice for countries with dense populations and limited landfill space. Incineration reduces the amount of waste left at the landfill, alleviates the pressures of land constraints and, in the case of Jamaica, will reduce the chance of fires.

If Jamaica takes this step toward energy recovery, it would be in keeping with their September 2014 announcement at the Climate Summit in New York, at which the Government committed to doubling their renewable energy usage by 2016.

Riverton Dump ideal for waste-to-energy investment in Jamaica

Sophia Longsworth

Sophia is a Grenadian residing in the United States. She holds an MPH and an MSc. in Natural Resource and Environmental Management, and has research interests in the impact of the environment on public health.

PUBLISHED — April 17, 2015

Category: BusinessSustainability