Trinidad and Tobago
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Siel Environmental Services keeps it clean

Newsday Reporter Sian Cuffy-Young sorts plastic and canned bottles at the Botanical Gardens, Port of Spain in November 2020. - FILE PHOTO/AYANNA KINSALE
Sian Cuffy-Young sorts plastic and canned bottles at the Botanical Gardens, Port of Spain in November 2020. - FILE PHOTO/AYANNA KINSALE

Sian Cuffy-Young talks rubbish – and is proud of it.

“My work is more than a business,” she says. “With Siel Environmental I started on a journey to help transform our society. It’s real work, towards a real goal. Starting with our youths, a step forward each time, you could say.”

It may be hard for most people to imagine their waste as anything but garbage. Moreover, being responsible for the waste we generate anywhere past the garbage bin is unlikely for most in TT.

Yet, as any cleanup of watercourses or beaches will show, we generate a stunning amount of waste. Measure it in the tonnes or tons, the disposable lifestyle has a firm grip upon the country, to the detriment of our environment.

Sian decided to do something to change perceptions about waste and how we treat it – and consequently found herself among the finalists of the Chamber’s Champions of Business for the Entrepreneurship Award.

She launched Siel Environmental Services Ltd in 2015 as a social enterprise specialising in waste-management education and training. Its mission is “To transform the way people think and act towards waste so that they no longer view and treat waste as garbage but instead as a valuable resource that can provide tremendous economic benefits.”


Furthermore, Sian notes, “Our work contributes to our country’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: 13 – Climate Action, and 12 – Responsible consumption and production.”

Siel's main services include consulting with businesses specifically around food and organic waste management. The company supports individuals to enhance their skill set in waste management and encourage the education of children through books and events. It has worked with beWasteWise, an international non-profit with global reach. Siel Environmental is tits first Caribbean connection, and hence is “putting Caribbean waste and wastewater management solutions on the global map.”

The company hasalso published a children’s book,Ky’s Magical Adventures – Where the Garbage Goes, featuring the main character Ky, who is based on Sian’s daughter Kya. It has sold 800 copies to date and hopes to get it into the national primary-school curriculum, a goal towards which the company is now working.

Additionally, it established the non-profit TEES (Transforming Environmental Education Successfully), which promotes the mission of education for sustainable development of waste management.

The services of Siel Environmental are accessible from anywhere in the world, thanks to its online presence. Content is provided through social media platforms Facebook, LinkedIn, Tik Tok and Instagram and blogs, and it delivers e-mail marketing via a subscriber list.

Sian has big plans for the enterprise in the years ahead. She is working towards establishing an organic-waste-processing facility and being able to export a food-waste-derived product to at least another Caribbean country within the next five years.

She also expects to help both local and regional companies set up effective management systems for food waste.

Not forgetting its mandate for responsible business practices, Siel can point to some enviable figures as a social enterprise operating in TT. It has made presentations on waste management to over 4,000 students to date; collected and diverted over ten tonnes of paper and over 20,000 plastic bottles from landfills; trained 100 people in composting techniques, allowing them to turn kitchen waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser; and it also offer isnternship programmes for tertiary graduates.

Although the Entrepreneurship Award was eventually copped by A&J’s Homemade Ice Cream, the Chamber salutes Sian Cuffy-Young for her work with Siel Environmental Services.

Her journey started years ago. Sian remembers a former teacher who said, “Sian is a trash talker, because even waste has a story.”

We say, “Keep talking, Sian!”