Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Policies, Practices and Realities of Illegal Dumping in Puerto Rico
Villanueva Colón, Nancy
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Changing consumer patterns of the past 30 years in the island of Puerto Rico have encouraged an increased accumulation of solid wastes. Municipalities provide an institutional system for the collection and disposal of solid wastes, but roadside dumps continue to accumulate even in the face of municipal efforts to eliminate them. Although there is an urgent need for the development of management strategies, little has been done. This research aims to produce a much needed analysis to define the magnitude and sources of the problem, and to propose a sound management strategy. The specific objective of the study is to examine the roadside dumping patterns of the municipios of Bayamón and Catano. Both have a municipal system of collection and disposal of wastes, a growing roadside dumping problem, and a wide representation of the Island's geographical environments. In order to understand roadside dumping, we must first study the phenomenon as a product of human choices and the relatioship of dumps with their environments, it is this relationship that influences the spatial distribution of roadside dumps. This research is performed in three phases: first, location, characterization of roadside dumps, their wastes, and their environmental context; second, examination of the current municipal system of collection and disposal through site visits and personal interviews with people involved with waste management at municipal and state level; third, integration and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data related to dumpsites; and fourth, the formulation of an improved management plan to target illegal dumps. The study's integration of quantitative and and qualitative data provides the framework for the analysis of illegal dumping behavior, and a plan for the prevention, management and clean up of illegal dumps. The findings of this research suggest that there is a strong relationship between unclear municipal policies, inadequate waste management, lack of alternatives, and the emergence of illegal dumps. The geographical context of most of the dumps sites was also an important factor in people's choices of a place to beused as a dumpsite. It is this relationship that influences the spatial distribution of roadside dumps.
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