January 27, 2021

The Wasteful Secrets Behind Small Island Tourism

By Cecillia Wong

With blue skies, turquoise oceans, and warm beaches in sight, tourists tend to gloss over the dark secrets that plague the paradise island destinations they love. Some of the trash and food waste they leave behind in their wake eventually ends up in the last place they expect: the ocean.

Small island resorts are plagued by the exacerbated costs of managing and transporting waste. Problems with scalability and the availability of technology have prevented resorts from finding more sustainable waste management solutions. Improper disposal and the accumulation of food wastes has led to a rapid increase in sanitation, pest, and odor problems.

Despite public outrage and local governments cracking down on improper waste management with strict regulations and fines, many of these resorts are unable to find ways to stop. The Maldives, a chain of 26 coral islands, is a popular island destination vacation spot is one of many paradises plagued by a growing trash problem. A multi-year study on the waste generated by Sandals Emerald Bay, a small island resort in the Bahamas, revealed that:

  • Food waste accounts for at least 36% of all solid waste generated for an island destination resort. 
  • 19-63% of waste from resort kitchens is compostable.
  • Recycling and composting food helped reduce landfill loads, but was typically expensive and required many resources.

Environmental and Underlying Impact of Waste

In the Maldives, the artificial island of Thilfushi receives 330 tons of garbage per day with most of the trash coming from luxury hotels. The accumulation of garbage there has become so pronounced that the government banned dumping on the island in December 2011 after a large overflow of garbage began spilling into the ocean. Local residents are deeply impacted by the waste generated by tourism, often finding garbage washing back onto the community beaches. Plastic trash is often eaten by the fish and birds, filling their stomachs and causing them to starve to death. The long term effects of toxic waste seeping into the sea are still unknown.

Modern Solutions for Modern Problems

Many resorts find it difficult to allocate sufficient resources to implement modern approaches to waste management. But these modern approaches can improve their care for the environment. Although there has been an impact on the environment in the past, it’s not too late to make a difference. Rather than use landfills, resorts should opt for modern solutions such as aerobic or anaerobic food digesters. An anaerobic digester is usually a large commercial facility that converts organic waste to heat and electricity. However, a huge downside to anaerobic food digesters is that the impact on carbon footprint barely changes as the primary output is methane gas. 

Alternatively, resorts can install an aerobic biodigester in their facility. The LFC Biodigester is an aerobic biodigester will digest most food waste within 24 hours and the output can be safely discharged into the sewage. With about 1,000 biodigesters installed globally, businesses of all sizes are using LFC biodigesters as their primary solution for food waste.

Dusit Thani Maldives and Four Seasons Resort Maldives At Landaa Giraavaru have entrusted the disposal of their waste food to Power Knot biodigesters. Some benefits of using an aerobic biodigester are:

  • On site organic waste processing
  • Cost reduction for food waste disposal
  • Reduction of size, quantity, and smells of trash bins
  • Elimination of pests and odors

Contact Power Knot to learn what waste solution best suits your facility here.

Power Knot