In This Section

Landfill Management


The Government of Trinidad and Tobago established the Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) in November 1980. SWMCOL’s initial mandates to design and implement solid and hazardous waste management systems and structures, and to advise the local government providers on waste management, were subsequently expanded to include the construction and management of engineered landfills, the collection of industrial waste, the transportation and processing of faecal waste, and the processing of recyclable materials.

SWMCOL converted the existing, open-burning dumps at the Beetham, Port of Spain and at Guanapo, Arima to landfills and established a third, new landfill at Forres Park, Claxton Bay.

SWMCOL also constructed and managed the Studley Park Landfill in Tobago up to its handover to the Tobago House of Assembly in 1988.


Trinidad’s landfills receive approximately 700,000 tonnes of waste per year (1500 to 2000 tonnes per day); comprising 66% household waste, and 33% of industrial, commercial, and institutional origin.

Our waste generation per capita averages between 1.5kg and 2.0kg per day.

Plastics account for 19% of the municipal solid waste (MSW) entering the landfills. Post-consumer beverage containers collectively contribute to approx. 1% of MSW. Other plastic waste comprises single-use bags and straws, polystyrene cups, cartons, etc., packaging materials, and a very large variety of commercial products ranging from household items to electronics and car parts.


  • Put simply, landfills bury waste in layers of cover material that is largely comprised of dirt and rubble. The operational area at a landfill is called the tip because the garbage trucks go there to offload (or tip) their cargo of waste.
  • The tip moves to a new location every so often so that the landfill is layered evenly.
  • The garbage is buried to suppress the way it looks and smells, and to minimize air pockets that could feed underground fires.
  • Heavy earth-moving machinery such as bulldozers bring in and spread the cover material, moving back and forth across the mounds of garbage to compact it as much as possible.
  • Trash arrives at the landfills as commingled piles of household and urban waste – both organic and inorganic - and it is very difficult to sort once it gets there.
  • The decomposition of organic wastes at the landfills produces methane, one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming which, in turn, leads to climate change.
  • Some waste types trickle down through the landfill and ooze into the groundwater and nearby ecosystems. This ooze, called leachate, requires constant pollution prevention monitoring and treatment.
  • Undesirable items at landfills include liquid or oily wastes, used tyres, hazardous and bio-medical wastes. These and other such items are considered ‘special’ wastes that are required to be pre-treated and disposed in a different manner.
  • Landfilling is not an ideal disposal system as it prevents most of the waste components from decomposing or breaking down as there is no exposure to the elements. Instead, the waste is preserved for several decades.


Trinidad & Tobago is counted among the fifty-two (52) small island developing states (SIDS) worldwide. The SIDS characteristics that impact waste management include limited land space and growing populations, excessive dependence on international trade, and fragile environments that are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In recognition of these vulnerabilities, SWMCOL sees the need to transform the waste sector from the traditional linear model to that of circularity via the Establishment of an Integrated Sustainable Solid Waste Management System (ISSWMS)




SWMCOL aims to transform the waste sector via the Establishment of an Integrated Sustainable Solid Waste Management System (ISSWMS), an initiative that is consistent with SWMCOL’s mandate. The benefits of the ISSWMS include:

  1. Alignment of Trinidad and Tobago’s solid waste management activities to meet targets consistent with the national policy and consistent with SDGs targets as well as other regional and international environmental agreements to which the country is a party.
  2. Mitigation of social, health and environmental impacts stemming from the operations of unsanitary landfilling and activities of the informal sector such as illegal waste salvaging, leachate migration, poor air quality, etc. and
  3. Creation of sustainable income earning opportunities especially for members from communities bordering the landfill sites during and after the construction phase.

The five (5) phases of the ISSWMS Project are:

  1. Technical, financial, social, environmental and economic studies of the Project;
  2. Establishment of a centralized, engineered landfill at Forres Park;
  3. Creation of transfer stations and materials recovery facilities at the Beetham, Forres Park and Guanapo sites and other appropriately identified sites;
  4. Closure and rehabilitation of existing landfills at Beetham and Guanapo; and
  5. Institutional strengthening, capacity building and public awareness and education.



Get into green sustainability recycling with SWMCOL and save the environment.

“Get into Green” is more than a call to action. It is both a precept and a promise.

The promise is that of a greener tomorrow for the benefit of all when we “Get into Green”.