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Letters

Incinerator for diapers

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Dear Sir

Further to the Parliamentary discussions held over the past few days with regard to diapers and other hazardous waste we would like to point out to the people of Tonga what we as a commercial sector business are doing.

We are running a private rubbish collection and waste care business here on Tongatapu. Waste Management Ltd has carried out private rubbish collection services since 2000.

We have over 250 clients, both domestic and commercial and have at present four vehicles all fully sign-written collecting rubbish, waste, confidential rubbish, in fact anything people wish to have removed. Our latest vehicle has been on the road since late July and is a small compactor truck. Together with our Tongan staff we are trying to make a difference.

We are also recycling aluminium cans and glass. The glass we stockpile until we have a fair amount, then crush this for a product similar to sand for use in concrete.

Diapers

The problem of safe destruction of used disposable diapers, medical waste, illegal products, confidential paper products and other assorted materials has been of great concern to us for some time now. We have researched this problem and have come up with a suitable solution for this island and for many other small island nations around the South Pacific.

We understand that the AUSAID funded landfill will be approximately 18 months away, but even in this landfill, no special consideration has been given, as far as we are aware, for the safe destruction of the used diapers.


Used diapers pose a health risk

they are dumped on roadsides

they are thrown onto our beaches

they fill the dump landfill site at the present time

and are a major concern to many residents of Tongatapu.

We are very concerned with protection of the environment and in mid-October will have a very suitable, low burning cost, high temperature incinerator built and working here on Tongatapu. This is to let you as a concerned person know that something positive is being done by a private sector business, and it is hoped that every used diaper on the island can be safely disposed of by the Incinerator over a period of time.

Application to build an incinerator

We would like to point out at this stage that the Minister of Health has been given our “Application to build an incinerator”. We have called the first one a demonstration incinerator to show island nations and small islands and aid donors what can be done for the waste on the islands. This incinerator project we hope will be approved. We have been told verbally by the Acting Senior Health Inspector that they will approve the demonstration incinerator. The incinerator is very clean burning, has had emission tests done in African and Asia, and is used by many hospitals in the third world, its original intention was to burn medical waste. Wet wound dressings, sharps, infected materials etc are similar to burning diapers and with the addition of 100mls of used engine oil for every 50 kg of used diapers we can destroy the non-degradable product to ash very quickly.

This incinerator has a building cost of approx $10,000 Tongan pa`anga. It is fired by dry paper, branches, twigs and rubbish. It will safely burn the plastic bags that people place their used diapers in and plastic soft drink bottles as these are effectively used as accelerant when placed into the incinerator.

Diaper Dumps

There will need to be collection points for people to place the used diapers, and there will need to be a cleanup effort in public places by community groups so that we can rid the island of a problem, and to also educate the people of Tongatapu that an easy way of disposal will be to place their bags of used diapers into what we have termed “diaper dumps”. A better name can be established, but the vision is for a metal container where bags of used diapers can be placed safely with no dogs or pigs being able to get into the container. They will be collected on a very regular basis and burnt safely.


Incinerator commissioning

This high temperature incinerator burns at 800 degrees C and was designed originally for the disposal of medical waste. With many hundreds built in the African continent, it is amazing that none have been built in this part of the world up to now. Our De Montfort University incinerator, as it is known, will be the first in the South Pacific, and we hope will not be the last, but will be the beginning of a waste problem solution affordable for all islands.

To promote the use of these incinerators, to train others in building and using them we, with the assistance of the EU and the CDE, and also NZ Aid are bringing out to Tonga on 21 October 2004 the Design Engineer for this incinerator. Professor D J Picken, has honoured us by agreeing to come down to Tonga from the UK, and assist us with the correct use of the incinerator and to also confirm that ours has been built to the highest standards.

Interested parties are invited to contact us to view the incinerator, and seek advice on what has to be done to build one.

We are planing a Commissioning during the week of 25 - 30th October 2004 in which we hope people will have time to come and view the incinerator.

If anyone has any questions please contact either of us and we will be very pleased to go over the project, show you our business and assist in any way we can.

Yours truly,

Roger and Lee Miller

WASTE MANAGEMENT LTD.

Salote Road, Ma`ufanga.