Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Talking rubbish again

I have written previously on this blog about what seems to be a total confusion about what to do about waste in Barbados (see link). Now I see in today's Advocate that the Sanitation Service Authority's (SSA) Engineer says that "greater measures must be employed by Barbadians to reduce the quantity of waste entering land-fills". Similar sentiments were apparently uttered by the so-called Solid Waste Project Unit. Useful figures: 1000 tonnes go to the Mangrove Pond Land-fill in St. Thomas every day. Of that, 7% is metal, 16% plastic, 24% paper/paperboard, 6% construction and demolition waste, textiles account for 6%, and organic matter accounts for 30%. Thus, almost all of the garbage is recyclable, and the authorities know this. But, clearly, the public do not know, or do not know where to put recyclables other than in the regular trash.

Other than telling people to "set it aside" and do composting, I have not heard or read of anything that helps people move ahead after setting things aside. I have mentioned a private company (B's Bottles) who take most glass and plastic beverage bottles, aluminium cans, and other plastic containers. B's want to take other material but that must await an expansion of their plant. The one company that used to take newspaper told me some months ago that they get adequate supplies from the newspaper publisher and have stopped taking from the public because they do not have demand for the recycled material (which was used to make chicken litter), so what can one do? If I fill my yard with recyclables that I have "set aside" I will have a house looking like a land-fill in no time! I know that having the regular garbage collector take the waste has proved to be the most workable solution in most countries, where household recylables are separated and collected by different trucks. Composting is fine if you have a garden, and are an active gardener. One other alternative is to have municipal sites to take organic waste. In some US urban counties, one can take leaves, tree debris, grass cutting, etc to such sites, which do the composting. In return, one can take away for free ready composted material. As I wrote before, solutions are there so I want to hear more that platitudes about setting recyclables aside.

Another downside to not organizing recycling is that people make sport of littering the place. Drive along any road in Barbados, on any day and count the number of bottles and cans on the roadside and in bushes. It's a large number. Remember, that all of these can be recycled in return for cash. Occasionally, I see people walking along collecting the debris, and making a little business for themselves. That's fine as far as it goes, but that does not cover everywhere. Add to that the polystyrene food containers, which now seem to adorn roadsides instead of flowers, and you see quickly that a significant amount of people dont know or care are what to do with garbage.

I have spoken to people running a few hotels and some of them are also at a loss to know what to do with recyclable waste. The very few that have some sort of eco-friendly program are light years ahead.

So, whatever the government agencies are doing they ain't doing much, at least the figures suggest that. Now, what would happen if you tied SSA's and Solid Waste Project Unit remuneration to success in getting the recyclable percentages down to say half? Interesting thoughts over the weekend!

2 comments:

Suzanne said...

Well over here we are wearing cloth diapers (that would be those of us under the age of 2!)I would love to cut back and do better on the recycling, thanks for the info.

Dennis Jones said...

You should get in touch with B's Bottles at least. They take a lot of plastic containers, including detergent bottles etc. It may make sense to set up neighbourhood recycling at least of the things that B's collect, and you could agree on how to use the proceeds collectively.