The local charity which promotes sustainable living has added its voice to calls for Government to make recycling mandatory.
The Future Centre Trust (FCT) yesterday contended that Barbados’ environment was being harmed by the overuse of plastic and styrofoam.
Figures from FCT Director Kammie Holder suggested that each Barbadian uses approximately 350 plastic bags a year, while the country imports $8 million worth of compost annually.
The charity, which focuses on the Barbados’ environment and its resources, added that 90 per cent of refuse collected during clean-up campaigns were plastic or styrofoam containers.
Holder said attitudes needed to change and legislation was one way of promoting recycling.
“On average we use over 100 million plastic bags yearly in Barbados. And where do they go? In the sea . . . I am a bit amazed that not many people are too keen about behaviour modification where the average Barbadians deem it necessary to bag their bag of bread [and] to bag a simple drink.
“Nearly 90 per cent of what we produce on a daily basis can be recycled. So first thing I believe we need to get the support of the Government where we can probably look at legislating recycling,” Holder said.
Speaking today at a news conference hosted by the ice cream manufacturer BICO to promote its compostable cutlery and containers, the FCT director suggested that several industries could spring from “what we consider to be waste” once recycling became legal.
The business community has also called for legislation to promote recycling, with Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Alex McDonald telling Barbados TODAY he supported a ban or a tax on the polystyrene products.
McDonald said he was particularly concerned about the impact those products were having on the environment as well as the island’s bread and butter tourism industry and productivity.
“When we litter and provide breeding ground for rodents and mosquitoes, it has an impact on our own productivity,” McDonald said.
He agreed it would require an extended educational programme before Barbadians changed their habits in relation to littering and the use of recyclable and more eco-friendly products.
Meanwhile, Executive Chairman of BICO Edwin Thirlwell said some supermarkets spent close to $1 million per year on the importation of plastic bags.
He suggested that consumers who go shopping without their own reusable shopping bags should be made to pay for plastic bags.
BICO announced earlier this year that it would help take a bite out of the garbage problem facing the country by importing and distributing compostable cutlery and containers.
The items, sourced from the UK-based company Vegware, are made from 100 per cent vegetable matter and decompose within about 12 weeks after use.
General Manager Jo-anne Pooler told the media today that an average of six to eight 40-foot containers of styrofoam were imported into Barbados each week.
“How long can we sustain that for? Barbados is only so big. How long can the landfill continue to receive those products?” she queried.
Despite its introduction of the biodegradable products, BICO will continue to serve its ice cream in two-litre and five-litre plastic containers.
Thirlwell explained that the technology had not yet been developed to produce a replacement that worked on the filling machine. (MM)