Rebirth of Recycling on Roatan
Organization Created to Administer Recycling Efforts

April 1st, 2010
by Jennifer Mathews

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Plastic is collected at the Roatan Municipal dump.

Plastic is collected at the Roatan Municipal dump.

The Roatan Recycling Association (Empresa de Recyclaje Roatan Sociedad Anonima de Capital Variable) officially achieved legal business status on January 25, with a charge to administer plastics recycling for the municipality of Roatan. The project is a culmination of a year’s worth of planning and coordination by members of the Recycling Association, USAID, Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA), Roatan Marine Park (RMP), ZOLITUR, and the Roatan Municipality.

Key players in the project held a meeting with USAID on February 11, to officiate and close the USAID phase of the project’s implementation. At the event, members of the Association received final donations of t-shirts, jeans, boots, caps, rakes, and other essentials for daily work. Members of the Cerveceria HondureƱa were also present to witness the legal designation. As a legal institution, the group has the capacity to receive funding and equipment from outside sources, thus growing the business.

Goals of the project include: identifying and placing plastics collection receptacles, educating the community of the project and how to participate, collecting the plastics by truck, delivering the plastics to a compactor, and shipping the plastics to the mainland for processing. By Honduran law, the Cerveceria HondureƱa, which imports a wide variety of bottled beer and soft drinks to the island, must implement carrying off of plastics which it has brought in. However, projects to do so in the past have met with challenges such as a lack of education of how to use recycling receptacles, lack of knowledge of the location of receptacles, and robbing of the metal receptacles themselves.

The local group of recyclers, now official members of the Association, has been working to bring plastics to San Pedro Sula for about three years of their own volition. By finally obtaining legal business status, they now have access to further business support. USAID gave a year in project support to help them work through the paperwork to obtain business documents and licenses, as well as donate materials. BICA and RMP have been referencing and mapping the most advantageous microcenter receptacles. BICA, ZOLITUR, and the RMP have been combining efforts to create a business plan for environmental education in the schools and communities, strategies for implementation, and support for business and accounting services.

The Cerveceria in French Harbour is slated to provide the compactor, the building to house it, the microcenter receptacles, and a special truck for collections. According to Sandy Castillo, administrator for RMP, and manager for the project, the Cerveceria is financially responsible and BICA, ZOLITUR, and the municipal are currently working on the budget proposal, which will be submitted to the Cerveceria.

For the Roatan municipal alone, the RMP and BICA have identified more than 600 locations for microcenter receptacles. “This is a pilot program for future projects in the islands as well as for the mainland,” said Castillo. Future goals for the project include expanding service area to Santos Guardiola, Utila, and Guanaja, becoming a model for mainland city projects, and expanding the type of products to be recycled, such as cans, glass, and milk cartons.

The recycled plastic bottles are ultimately shredded to produce PET flakes. These are used as raw material in the production of carpet and fabrics, replacing polyester raw material. Glass and aluminum can be reused in the manufacturing of new bottles and cans.

The board members elected for the Roatan Recycling Association are: President – Samuel Sandres, Vice President – Jose Angel Calix, Secretary – Maria de Jesus Ramos, Treasurer – Santos Angelina Villacorta, Commissioner – Walter Villacorta, Fiscal – Santos Erasmo Ruiz, Vocal 1 – Nelly Villacorta, Vocal 2 – Carlos Romero, and Socios – Rosa Martinez, Juan Murillo, and Maria Alvarado. [/private]

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