The Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05 (EM Act) was enacted by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for the protection, conservation, and restoration of our natural resources and to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) was established as the public authority responsible for the implementation of the EM Act. As such, the EMA has developed and implemented policies and legislation for the management of the environment under the EM Act, most recently, the Waste Management Rules 2021.
Previously, the EMA managed waste to an extent under the EM Act through the Certificate of Environmental Clearance Rules 2001 (CEC Rules). Certain projects as defined by the CEC Designated Activities Order were regulated under the CEC Rules, ensuring that project-specific wastes were handled and managed in an environmentally sound manner. However, it was recognised that stand-alone legislation for existing waste management operations (small, medium and large) was required to control the management of waste at all stages of the life cycle, such as generation, processing, treatment, packaging, storage, transportation, collection, disposal, recovery, and recycling. In this regard, the EMA drafted subsidiary legislation, specifically, the Waste Management Rules, 2021 (WMR) and Waste Management (Fees) Regulations (WMFR) 2021 which take effect on 31 May 2022.
The WMR and WMFR support the legal framework to improve the national management of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The objective is to regulate activities related to the management of waste through a permitting regime. The permitting regime consists of the following groups:
- Generators (holders of a Waste Generation Permit) who produce non-hazardous wastes at or above specified quantities or hazardous waste at any quantity.
- Handlers (holders of a Waste Handling Permit) who receive waste from another person for collection, storage, processing, treatment, recovery, recycling, or disposal.
- Generators and handlers permitted under the WMR and WMFR are obligated by the Rules to implement measures to reduce waste generation; exercise environmentally sound management of waste; segregate hazardous waste from non-hazardous waste to facilitate handling, and ensure that treatment, recovery, or disposal of waste is conducted in a facility with all regulatory approvals.
NOTE: The WMR and WMFR provide for the following exemptions: radioactive waste, gaseous emissions and wastewater from wastewater treatment premises, as such wastes are regulated by other legislation, for example, the Water Pollution Control Rules, 2019 or Air Pollution Rules, 2014.
The WMR and WMFR strive to support environmentally sound management of waste while helping to reduce waste pollution in Trinidad and Tobago and represent a positive step forward in the country’s sustainable environmental development agenda. The WMR and WMFR support Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy, Vision 2030, which focuses on the ‘environment being at the centre of social and economic development’. Additionally, the WMR and WMFR are aligned to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDGs 3, 11 12 and 14, which relate to eliminating dumping, waste management, the reduction of waste and marine pollution, respectively, which are inextricably linked to a better quality of life for all.
The new rules and regulations support T&T's National Development Strategy, National Environment Policy and connect to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The EMA once more sends a clarion call to all citizens to join the fight for environmentally sound management of waste, thus mitigating the damaging impacts of pollution. For further information on the WMR and WMFR, please visit www.ema.co.tt or the EMA’s social media platforms.