by Larry Smith
During an informal discussion at a science conference on Abaco recently, the question of recycling came up, with one participant insisting that even the local breweries’ much-touted bottle re-use programme was not working.
So I decided to take a look at all the recycling efforts in the country today. Surprisingly, there’s a lot more going on than you might imagine.
First, a little context. These days about a third of the 250 million tons of trash Americans create each year is recycled or composted, compared to about 40 per cent of the average waste each European generates.
This puts the US somewhere in the middle of the major countries (United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and Japan) in terms of landfill disposal. Only a few countries – Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Austria and Denmark – have been able to phase out landfilling.
But for small island states like the Bahamas, both land and cover material are at a premium. And landfill management is often inadequate, leading to frequent toxic fires, pollution of the water table, overproduction of greenhouse gases, and the spread of vermin. And illegal dumping creates obvious problems for tourist-oriented countries like ours.