Project Manager at the Solid Waste Project Unit, Ricardo Marshall (right ) with residents during the recent launch of the Community Curbside Recycling Programme at the Villages at Coverley, Christ Church. (FP)

The old saying "one man’s trash is another man’s treasure" is growing in popularity in Barbados as more people are becoming involved in the recycling effort, and cashing in on the benefits of safeguarding their environment.

Individuals and business owners are joining the fight to live up to the 4Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover – to assist in Barbados’ objective of establishing a green economy.

One entity championing the cause is the Solid Waste Project Unit (SWPU) – the host of the 4R’s Fair scheduled to come off on Saturday, February 16, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., under the theme: Partnerships for a more Sustainable Barbados.

This year’s fair will feature a number of film presentations, including one on Harrison’s Cave, The Burning Agenda, The Story of Stuff, and The Impact of Climate Change on Reefs.

Project Manager at the SWPU, Ricardo Marshall, said this year’s event would also highlight the recycling efforts of the Deighton Griffith Secondary School, and host workshops to show people how to compost their garbage.

The fair has become one of the main initiatives of the SWPU to raise the level of awareness about recycling in Barbados as a way of protecting the environment.

Mr. Marshall explained that the Unit was established in the early 1990s to develop and implement an integrated solid waste management programme. "Our mission is to develop a high quality, efficient and sustainable integrated waste management system while fostering the participation of all residents and protecting the environment," he said.

Key in that mission, he continued, would be the development of key facilities, such as the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre, to process and treat waste and divert it from the island’s lone landfill.

Mr. Marshall added that the SWPU was also charged with institutional strengthening of the private and public sectors; the gradual development and rollout of a comprehensive waste management programme; using waste as a resource and the development of new legislation; the upgrading of existing legislation to support waste management policy and ensuring that waste management policies were dynamic and based off the 4Rs.

The Project Manager said the idea for the fair, now in its fifth year, came out of a workshop and exposition. "It was felt that as the interest in recycling grew, there was an opportunity to make people more aware through an event with the 4Rs as the focus," he said.

He explained that the 4Rs stood for Reducing the amount of waste being used and its toxicity; Reusing as much of it as possible; Recycling what was left; and Recovering commodities such as energy from the waste.

With that in mind, the first fair was held in 2009 at Queen’s Park and saw a number of people attending. The following year, the fair moved to Independence Square, but did not attract the desired response. "We had difficulties managing the wind and rain with the exhibits," he said.

So, by 2011 the decision was made to move the event to the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, which has now become its home. "Since then we have had two successful years there and the interest is growing," he said.

Noting that Trinidadian company, Poui – Protecting Our Universal Investment, would be present at Saturday’s fair, he added that there were plans to have a larger overseas contingent next year to display and highlight their recycling efforts.

"We have had interest from the rest of the region. We promote what we do at the various workshops and conferences we attend around the region, and we have had people from other Caribbean territories asking about what Barbados is doing," the Project Manager stated.

He added that the SWPU was also in contact with persons from the United States, and Canada, and was presently interacting with those in Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan and Germany. "We have shared our experience with them and they have shared theirs with us so we can learn from each other," he said, adding, that "fruitful exchanges" were also held with the Providence of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Mr. Marshall noted that a Knowledge Attitudes and Practice survey conducted last year confirmed that more people were becoming involved in recycling. "Seventy-four per cent of those surveyed said they were already involved in recycling, and those not involved said they were willing to become involved as it became more accessible," he disclosed.

The survey also revealed that there was a growing interest in recycling from the business community and public sector entities.

However, the Project Manager described the fair as a representation of what the SWPU did in terms of educational activities, as the Unit continues to take its drive to the communities.

During an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mr. Marshall explained that the team at the SWPU conducted formal educational activities in schools and communities. That, he said, included a curriculum guide to integrate solid waste management into school curriculums, competitions, text book activities, developing CDs and DVDs such as Timmy Turtle and Litter Bugs.

"We also worked with schools, the Barbados Future Centre Trust and the Sanitation Service Authority to establish recycling and composting programmes," he noted.

Mr. Marshall further stated that the Unit has also hosted home composting workshops and sponsored a Junior Kadooment Band entitled: From Litter to Glitter, where all the costumes were made from


recyclable material.

In addition, he said the Unit worked with communities in Marchfield, St. Philip, and more recently at Coverley, Christ Church, to establish a Community Curbside Recycling Programme. "We will study the results and expand that programme island-wide gradually," he declared.

However, already in existence are promotions for reusable shopping bags to reduce the use of plastic in supermarkets, signs along the highway promoting the proper disposal of garbage and discouraging littering and illegal dumping,?? the popular Waste Buster game for children.

But, the growing interest in recycling is placing a strain on the Unit. "Often we would like to do more, provide more bins and give more talks, but we don’t have the human or financial resources to respond to all those that come to us," Mr. Marshall admitted. However, he said the Unit has been joined by public and private sector entities which have come onboard.

In addition, he explained, that one of the key messages which the Unit sought to promote was that everyone was responsible for their own waste. "The survey also showed that people were starting to see themselves as being responsible for the waste that they generate," he pointed out.

And, the official disclosed that people have been responding, with a number of businesses in the area of recycling being started. "You can recycle anything. All types of plastics, including beverage bottles, cleaning containers, to cream and shampoos bottles, and, other personal care products can be recycled. You can also recycle electronic waste such as computers, cellular phones, and metals from old door knobs, tins from canned food, automotive and cooking oil and cardboard," he noted.

However, Mr. Marshall encouraged everyone to come out to the 4R’s Fair to learn more about how they could Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover the waste they generate.


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