Private sector promotes recycling in the USVI

Plastics for recycling. Image: Lisa.
Solid waste

The St. John Source reports on how one business in the US Virgin Islands is partnering with non-governmental organisations and concerned citizens to encourage recycling

When Plaza Extra owner Wille Hamed moved to St. Thomas from St. Croix in 1993, the Bovoni landfill was flat.

“Now it’s 2018, and the landfill is a mountain, and that’s a sore sight for all Virgin Islanders,” Hamed said…

Plaza Extra St. Thomas has been doing its part to recycle cardboard, milk and bread containers and pallets, and while Hamed says that makes a difference, his latest push – along with sister store Plaza Extra West on St. Croix – is to push for recycling plastics.

Together, the stores have launched a three-month program in which they collect, compress and bale plastics brought in from the community. Plaza Extra St. Thomas covers the cost of getting the bales over to St. Croix, and then the stores also pay for containers that ship the bales off island to the mainland.

“It is costly, more than I would have imagined initially, but it’s a service for our community,” Hamed said. “And really, it’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel. Most of the United States recycles, why can’t we? For us to leave our islands they way they are is sad and we all have to come together and be motivated to do what we can to help.”

In each district, the stores have partnered with residents – Diane and Gary Brooks on St. Croix – and organizations – Environmental Association of St. Thomas and V.I. Green Team – to get the movement going and raise awareness.

Hamed said the goal is not only to reduce landfill waste but to educate others about the importance of looking at what they buy.

“I’ll tell my customers, when they buy our goods, that we would be happy to take their containers back and recycle them,” Hamed said. “We’re not in the business of recycling, we have never been, so I’m not taking whole containers from other businesses, but the community response has been increasing every week and we hope that’s been bringing a lot of attention to the need to recycle and be more environmentally friendly.”

Read more in the original article from the St. John Source.  

[Note: these recyclables collected in the USVI are being shipped to the US mainland for processing . Up to the end of 2017 the US was sending a large proportion of its waste to China for recycling. Starting January 2018, China began refusing waste imports, and countries that were previous exporters are now struggling to find ways to manage their waste sustainably.]

[Image: Lisa]

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