Referred to as “The Nature Island,” Dominica attracts thousands of tourists each year to experience its wealth of forests, rivers and other natural attractions. However, growing waste management issues threaten the long-term health of these natural assets and prosperity of the tourism industry.
Over 4 million kilograms of waste were generated in Dominica in 2014, of which the tourism industry contributed approximately 4.5 percent. This substantial amount of waste poses a problem as Dominica’s waste management infrastructure is inadequate for current or future needs. Resources are limited and there is a need for additional collection trucks, haulers, and recycling collection points. In addition, the inconsistent enforcement of policies results in missed opportunities for improved waste management. Because there are no policies or resources in place to address food waste in hotels, organic matter that could be composted is instead being sent to landfills. There is also a general lack of public awareness about waste management issues and the related environmental concerns.
Kalinago Territory Waste Management
Dominica is the only Caribbean island with a remaining population of pre-Colombian Carib Indians, now known as the Kalinago. The majority of this indigenous population lives in a series of small rural settlements that make up the Kalinago Territory on the northeastern coast of the Island. Due to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Kalinago, there is a high potential for community-based, cultural tourism in the region. This tourism development would create additional income opportunities for the communities, but it would also bring challenges such as added waste.
During an action-planning workshop conducted as part of the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), local stakeholders identified a priority project focused on improving waste management in the Kalinago Territory. The goal of the project is to develop a model waste management plan for the region. Town hall meetings will be held to discuss waste separation and create a collection schedule. In addition, local residents will receive training to become garbage collectors and a truck will be purchased to start collection. This project will help ensure the Kalinago Territory remains an attractive destination for visitors and residents alike as community-based tourism grows.
Composting for Tourism Businesses
In 2015, Sustainable Travel International partnered with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to develop a waste management tool for the tourism sector in Small Island Developing States. As part of this work, local stakeholders met for an on-site workshop and identified quick-win project ideas for improved waste management in Dominica’s tourism sector. Stakeholders chose to prioritize a project focused on implementing a food waste composting program in Roseau and its surrounding environs. Increasing the amount of food waste being composted by tourism businesses will reduce the amount of waste going to the island’s only landfill, prevent harmful environmental impacts, and lessen business costs. In addition, the implementation of a composting system also represents potential economic benefits as the finished compost could be sold for use by farmers or hotel gardens.
This pilot project will target participation of 20 hotels, restaurants and related entities in Roseau and its surrounding areas. The vision is to address composting at a national level by scaling up the pilot project to other regions of the country based on lessons learned and funding secured.