Significant volumes of solid waste are produced on the island, and the current systems and infrastructure have challenges for efficient and effective management despite many efforts.
This challenge is further compounded with high tourist arrivals that almost doubles the local resident population at any given time, putting additional strain on already limited waste management and disposal systems.
As an attempt to manage waste and move towards environmentally sustainable policies and practices, Barbados has recently joined the global movement to manage the plastic pollution crisis. On April 1st, 2019 a ban on the importation of specific petroleum-based single-use plastic items was instilled. On July 1, 2019 a ban on the retail and use of the single-use plastic items was listed. Then from Jan 1, 2020, there will be a ban on petroleum-based plastic bags.
In regard to chemical waste, there are significant challenges with the pollution of the water system locally. Barbados is ranked as one of the fifteen most water-scarce countries in the world. As a low-lying coral-based island where groundwater supplies, located in aquifers, are protected only by a thin layer of permeable soil, it depends largely on rain. The wet season, lasting from around June to October, affects the quantity of groundwater since this is when the underground aquifers are replenished, and this is the major source of potable water on the island. The quality of this already scarce water is also an issue, as domestic and agricultural waste increase the levels of nitrates in the groundwater, therefore, causing further contamination.
The BECT seeks to support all efforts in improving waste management measures to reduce the impact on marine and terrestrial environments as well as the general health of the local population. It will support organisations working towards promotion and implementation of zero waste approaches and enhancing a circular economy.