It is impossible for one person to turn the toxic, polluted Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia, into a clean waterway, fit for human consumption, or to clear the massive, floating garbage patch in the great Pacific. By himself, one person cannot put an end to the garbage and trash that chokes and clogs our drains and canals or put a stop to the pollution that mars the shorelines of our local hot spots such as Manzanilla Beach and Scotland Bay. But it takes just one person to determine how much trash he adds to our already overburdened landfills, this he can do by simply recycling.
Plastics are a large contributor to our landfills. If every person took responsibility for their own waste—in particular, plastic waste, then fewer plastics would end up clogging our waterways or spending lifetimes in landfills. Setting the right example in recycling is Trevor Williams and his team at Recycling in Motion (RIM) where every year, the company recycles more than two million pounds of plastic.
At the company’s warehouse in Champs Fleurs, there are large cardboard boxes that would make any die-hard recycler gloat with pride. Inside the boxes are millions of tiny pieces of plastic—fresh out of the granulator. In reality, those large boxes contain trash, the remnants of old containers, bags and bottles, but what Williams sees when he skims the surface of each box are future bags, park benches, cell phones and even jackets that would eventually be made out of this very material. After the plastics are ground into tiny pieces, each large box, chock-full with pieces of plastic, is sealed then shipped to several countries as far away as Iran and Hong Kong where the ground plastic is recycled and begins its new life as some other useful material.
RIM has other affiliate companies in the US, Europe, St Lucia, Guyana and Barbados. At its warehouse, RIM recycles all seven grades of plastics. For RIM’s chief executive officer, Williams, recycling is not just his job, it’s part and parcel of his life. And now, he’s saying to anyone that will listen: join the bandwagon and start recycling.
There are many reasons why one should recycle. News reports remind us of the dangers that overflowing landfills present. When a fire broke out at the Guanapo landfill last week, the thick, white smoke emanating from the site posed serious questions about the health hazards. When plastics such as PVC are burned, they release carcinogens into the atmosphere which cause cancer and respiratory diseases, according to research.
When the Express first spoke with Williams more than a year ago, he spoke of the local interest in recycling, which he said was increasing. Today, RIM has reached out to schools and companies and even hosted a plastics recycling day where they combined fun and games with a recycling drive.
But sometimes, the benefits the environment can derive from recycling are not enough to encourage some to start recycling. Williams told the Express that some still wish to be compensated monetarily. While Williams has an idea on how this can be accomplished, he prefers to wait on the highly anticipated beverage container bill, the object of which is not only to protect the environment but to also create incentives for manufacturers, vendors and consumers of beverages to reuse or recycle beverage containers. Until the Government brings legislation mandating the recycling of beverage containers, all can play a part, whether large and small, and start recycling today.