EDITORIAL: Recycling is key to healthy environment
BUSINESSMAN ANDERSON CHERRY must be applauded for his relentless push to have recycling become a reality in Barbados on a national scale. He is not promoting this business proposition simply out of altruistic reasons, as it obviously provides an opportunity to grow his waste management business even if there are significant environmental benefits for the country. The facts are clear that this island needs to embrace recycling and urgently.
Dealing with the influx of waste, whether it be from commercial, industrial or residential sources, has become a major headache. The state of garbage all across the island is now an eyesore, the illegal dumping a health threat and the insensitive and indiscriminate disposal along the roadside paints an ugly picture.
Barbadians, whether at the corporate or individual levels, do not pay serious enough attention to where all the garbage they are producing must end up; getting that waste from around their immediate surrounding is the primary focus.
The quantity and type of garbage being disposed of is growing almost daily. There is the influx of waste from the tourist industry on land and at sea as evidenced by the results from the clean-ups undertaken by environmental groups at various times of the year.
Then there is the drastic rise in discarded vehicle tyres and batteries, which present new challenges to our ground-water system given the toxic lead acid, nickel cadmium and lithium ion that can leak from batteries at the landfill. Now, there is the waste created by the expanding technology sector, including mobile phones, that add to the headache.
The management of our waste must change as we have reached a crisis point and the landfill solution is neither cheap nor sustainable. Barbados needs clear goals to divert measurable amounts of garbage from the landfill within a certain time frame.
There are simple things which we should do at the individual household and business levels. The recycling of paper, plastics, glass and tin cans must be stepped up, as we must start placing our garbage in appropriate receptacles and not in the gullies or on open lots.
The business community must have clear guidelines relating to recycling, including “extended producer responsibility” that requires manufacturers and major distributors to take back the plastic, cardboard and form-fitting foam in which their products come. This requires a system be in place to ensure compliance.
An extended public education programme will have to be undertaken, which must not been seen in partisan politics but should draw on the major institutions and organisations to get buy-in at all levels. At the same time our environmental health officers must enforce the laws to their fullest, whether the infractions be minor or major. This means pulling those vehicles emitting smog off our roads, banning roadside mechanics discharging their waste into the drains; and ensuring abandoned vehicles are not left on any road.
We must stop behaving like barbarians.