We in Barbados are seemingly struggling with issues of garbage disposal and recycling. Even though in recent years, education on proper garbage disposal and caring for the environment have been stepped up, there are still those who persist in the practice of illegal dumping and littering in general.
As such, there is still room for the Barbadian population to increase recycling efforts and make it a priority in our daily lives.
This is not to say that recycling is a new concept for Barbadians. Since the introduction of the Returnable Containers Act of 1986, consumers have become accustomed to returning glass and plastic containers for recycling. However, this Act would certainly need to be revised to be relevant in 2017, but hopefully this can easily be addressed. This issue was addressed just last month by management of a recycling company here and it was noted that “we need to expand on the Containers Returnable Act not only to include the pep bottles, but also aluminum cans, the beer cans, the energy cans and so on”. Thereafter, fines for improper disposal of garbage, as well as a review of charges for reliable collection in certain areas would be an added source of revenue for the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA). This could then be used to carry out the necessary upgrades.
In this global recession, we need to get creative and realise that there is money in waste. There are too many instances of metal waste lying around, particularly car shells and discarded pieces of galvanized sheets. Bad disposal practices must be replaced by a positive programme where all Barbadians can benefit in the future.
Internationally, there is a lot of talk about going green and environmentally friendly solutions, and recycling is the norm in most households. The benefits of this to Barbadians range from health-related benefits to financial opportunities since in recycling, new products can be created. Over the years, several young students have taken the lead in promoting recycling projects and one example that stood out was a line of furniture made from recycled milk bottles a few years ago. The health benefits alone make total recycling an initiative worth considering. In observing the global implications to, China, for example, parts of the US and other industrial economies, we must realise that there has already been significant damage to the environment and we can ill-afford to contribute to this mounting problem.
Some states in America have implemented mandatory recycling programmes and there have been reports that the benefits of recycling have far outweighed the cost. New York City has the largest recycling programme in the US. Three million households, plus public schools and institutions, receive recycling collection by the Department of Sanitation. Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle, have also made recycling mandatory. Businesses with garbage containers ‘contaminated’ with more than ten recyclables are issued warnings and eventually fined if they don’t comply. Household garbage cans with recyclables in them are simply not collected until the recyclables are removed to the recycling bin.
The SSA cannot clean up the country by themselves. Each of of us should try to educate ourselves on how we can contribute to a cleaner Barbados.