THE ISSUE: Barbados has come a long way
YOU COULD SAY Barbadians generally are not recyclers. All it takes to reach that conclusion is a drive around urban and rural areas to see the bags of trash that are left out for the Sanitation Service Authority to collect daily.
Most who make purchases at supermarkets or other shopping areas are usually seen leaving with plastic bags provided by the various stores.
The problem is compounded by littering seen daily and dumping of large appliances in the gullies and other locations.
Good waste management has become even more important as Barbados’ population grows and hence the number of consumerables and other items increase.
Barbadians are accustomed to recycling plastic and glass bottles, a process made easier as far back as 1985 when the Returnable Containers Act came into force.
Increased participation among Barbadians in recycling, including the production of compost, is key based on the statistics already known.
A 2005 study on solid waste characterisation found that Barbados’ solid waste stream including 30 per cent organic materials, 24 per cent paper and cardboard, and seven per cent textiles.
It was pointed out that given that some textiles are made from cotton which is organic, and also since some newspapers were compostable, this meant that about half of the solid waste produced included compostable materials.
Experts say about 75 per cent of all household waste can be recycled.
In Barbados’ case, however, a major part of the problem was that about 60 per cent of household waste included recyclable material that householders were putting out in their garbage.
This challenge has been resolved by the establishment of a transfere station operated by Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC), which receives an estimated 1 000 tonnes of waste daily, more than a quarter of which is household waste.
SBRC, which was opened in 2009, and is a subsidiary of Williams Industries Inc, has said that the waste stream entering its facility “is generally comprised of municipal solid waste and construction and demolition waste, which each make up about 50 per cent of this stream by weight”.
It noted that municipal solid waste included household waste, commercial waste, tree trimmings and yard waste, paper and cardboard and packaging pallets. Construction and demolition waste includes woody construction material, rubble, rocks and soil.
“All material entering and leaving the facility is weighed at the scale house.
“The household and commercial waste is delivered to the transfer station building. In the transfer station building waste is pre-sorted to remove bulky items and green waste.
“The remain waste is sent over a rotating drum screen (a trommel) where the garbage bags are torn open and the fine material is screened out,” SBRC explained.
“The remaining material is sent over a sorting conveyor where recoverable material such as plastic bottles and metal cans are removed.
“The remaining waste is sent to transfer trailers and transferred to the landfill.
“This material makes up the majority of weight that is directed to the landfill,” it added.
Other companies involved are important participants in the recycling process including B’s Recycling, which collects, processes and exports recyclable material including glass, plastic, and metal. Ace Recyling has been involved in recycling office paper and magazines.
Then there is Caribbean E Waste Management Inc. which recycles electronic waste including computers, cellphones, batteries, transformers, photocopiers, ink jet cartridges and small household electrical appliances.
Most of the operations were not around 20 years ago, which suggests that Barbados has come a long way in terms of establishing an efficient recycling system.
But with the island continuing to produce larger amounts of solid waste more needs to be done.
This includes educating Barbadians about the importance and monetary value of recycling, in addition to having a comprehensive policy on solid waste management from Government.