Green Antilles interview: Simera Crawford

Simera Crawford. Image: courtesy of Simera Crawford.
Innovation
8

Today’s Green Antilles interview is with Simera Crawford. Simera is the executive founder of the Caribbean Environmental Management Bureau, and the mastermind behind BitEgreen, an enterprise that aims to transform waste management in Barbados by using gamification as an incentive to recycling.

Please explain to Green Antilles readers what BitEgreen is and how it works.

BitEgreen is an innovative environmental initiative which uses technology to turn trash into cash for all locals, visitors and organizations. BitEgreen makes it easy for businesses to purchase, market, launch and sell more products and services using recycling as a catalyst. We’ve created a system which uses gamification (i.e. the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts) and an integrated online marketplace that makes it possible to assign a monetary value to recycled material for use in purchasing products and services. Our solution to the waste management challenge is to incentivize wider participation in recycling, tackle issues of sorting garbage at the source, and develop a reliable collection and disposal network for recyclables. The system naturally integrates into existing recycling programmes while helping to educate users and address cultural change to engender desired behaviours.

What motivated you to start this project?

The negative effects of waste management on the terrestrial and marine environment, and by extension our health, economy and tourism product, concern me deeply. Nature is so beautiful and refreshing to me, that irreversible destruction of this resource by humans due to bad habits and a lack of understanding is totally unacceptable! So I decided to do something about it as innately I love ingenuity and solving problems, and generally have a creative mindset. Furthermore, I am driven to preserve the environment due to a heightened awareness of related benefits to all, since I hold a Master of Science in Natural Resource and Environmental Management, where I specialised in Coastal and Marine Resource Management, and conducted research on the use of key performance indicators toward sustainable tourism in the Caribbean.

Beat Plastic Pollution - BitEgreen

What are your vision and goals for the BitEgreen initiative?

Our vision is to facilitate the 100% capture and distribution of recyclable material, working with companies and individuals each playing a part in a manner that incentivizes all.

When can we hope to see BitEgreen launched and in operation?

We will be fully launched at the end of this year.

How can people get more information about BitEgreen?

They can visit Cembi.org, or follow @CembiOrg on social media for periodic updates on the launch, including links to BitEgreen’s website and social media pages when available. They may also email team@cembi.org to request information or sign up via the CEMBI Facebook page facebook.com/CembiOrg or on the website listed above.  And they can take a look at our BitEgreen brochure


[Interview responses have been edited lightly for clarity/readability. Images and brochure courtesy of Simera Crawford.]

I was moved to tears as I read this article. Brilliant project! I am aware of the hard work and sacrifices that went into this and am filled with joy, pride and excitement to see it reaching this stage.
Congratulations and best wishes to Simera and the entire CEMBI team as “your baby” is implemented.

How do they plan to fund this? It is a cool idea with an absolutely astronomical price tag if it is to be done right. Apps and online stores worth their salt are VERY expensive undertaking to build AND maintain.

How will fulfilment be handled. Cheating prevented. Etc. I have gamified closed environments before and those are hard enough to deal with where you could fire employees who cheated. Who monitors this to prevent abuse and bankruptcy.

And who are they partnered with to actually do any of the recycling. It sure as heck isn’t SSA who lacks the split trucks. As does just about everyone on the island.

There are much more practical approaches that should be considered first IMHO. This is just a bunch of decent ideas with no solid evidence it has been thought past concept… and maybe that is the fault of the author and not the initiative.

Thanks for your comment on Green Antilles. As you can see in the article, Ms. Crawford has provided several ways to get in touch with her about the BitEgreen project. Based on your past experience and your thought-provoking questions, I’m sure she would appreciate your constructive criticism if you get in contact with her directly.

Dear Sp, Thank you for your interest. All of the queries you have thought of above, we have addressed. This operation is following practical systems of implementation, and is not just an idea or dream. It has occurred over a period of time in partnership with other organizations. One of those methods is having solid evidence and knowledge of our system to allow us to speak about it, as well as act on it. We will, and do not attempt to operate this system based on assumptions in the least. Kind regards, Simera Crawford.

Dear Sp, Thank you for your interest. All of the queries you have thought of above, we have addressed. This operation is following practical systems of implementation, and is not just an idea or dream. It has occurred over a period of time in partnership with other organizations. One of those methods is having solid evidence and knowledge of our system to allow us to speak about it, as well as act on it. We will, and do not attempt to operate this system based on assumptions in the least. Kind regards, Simera Crawford.

Greetings Simera
Yes, we have to keep on thinking and addressing problems in SWM that persist. We must have a fuller conversation and I would want to focus on the areas of measurement/categorization, physical capacity and structures, legal, regulatory and institutional issues, incentives at levels from storage at household level to the disposal/sale of the materials for recycling, and on overall financial viability. I think that financial realities in Barbados would suggest that Government be encouraged to privatise the management of waste system (collection to disposal or energy generation). If required I can help Govt think through the various contract types that would have to be let and managed for a successful system. We would have to work through the stakeholder management process and where we cannot beat players like Mr Bizzy Williams and his team we may have to negotiate or collaboration as they already have their feet in the govt’s door and their hands outstretched for funds that may be owed. we will have to be also open to management of the other types on non recyclables to close the SWM loop.
I will stop here but you can engage me if you wish. I have a lot of experience and materials on the topic that I can share with Bit Green. I can also share my CV if you wish. I am always delighted to have these kinds of discussion with those person from my MSc days who are thinking through ideas and concepts. Let no one discourage even raw thoughts.

Greetings Clairvair!
Thank you very much for the warm support. I am aware that solid waste management (SWM) is your speciality and you are definitely seeing our holistic picture. We have passed the idea phase which was a lengthy and detailed process. I will be in touch.
Kind regards,
Simera

8 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Esther Wolfs. Image: courtesy Esther Wolfs.
Interview
Green Antilles interview: Esther Wolfs

Today’s Green Antilles interview is with Esther Wolfs, an environmental economist who has worked across the Caribbean, from Bonaire to Belize to the Cayman Islands. She is the founder of Wolfs Company, a consulting company that focuses on incorporating the value of natural capital in decision-making for sustainable development. For …

Plastic bag. Image: Takoma Park
Solid waste
Guyana to ban single-use plastics by 2021

The government of Guyana has confirmed its intention to implement a systematic ban on single-use plastics by 2021: Minister of State, Joseph Harmon … said “the work has already begun on sensitising our population to the fact that 2021 is the date we have identified for a ban on single-use …

Dr. Sonia Peter. Image: courtesy Dr. Sonia Peter.
Interview
Green Antilles interview: Dr. Sonia Peter

Today’s Green Antilles interview is with Dr. Sonia Peter of Barbados. Dr. Peter is a natural products chemist with an interest in ethnobotany and plant conservation. She studies the fascinating library of natural agents produced by plants, the tradition of our use of plants for medicine and the potential for …