On day 5 of #exxpeditioncaribbean2016, we were greeted by Suzanne and Greg at Sustainable Barbados’ Recycling Center to be guided on a tour of their facilities.
The SBRC is a private company mandated by the government of Barbados to manage four categories of recyclables:

  1. Organic materials – coconut shells, shipping pallets, untreated wood products, leaves, etc.
  2. Construction – treated wood, concrete, cement, etc.

  3. Paper and cardboard

  4. Metal

Plastic is mostly handled by another private company, that isn’t government contracted. These materials, once sorted, are then shipped off to other countries who recycle them.
The government has mandated the company to redirect 70% of the waste sent to landfill towards recycling. The Center’s landfill has a predicted life of 6 years, but by achieving this goal, they hope to extend it to 9 years.
For all their efforts, the SBRC is facing some important challenges that they are currently trying to surmount.One of these challenges is the dip of the oil price, which instigated a loss of value for materials like metal on the export market.
What’s more, the government has recently imposed a tipping fee on every delivery of materials to the Center, as a way of funding the facility’s activities. On every delivery, a 25$ BBD fee is imposed per tonne. Although the intention is honorable, the measure has created an undesirable effect on the Center’s intake of materials. The tonnage dropped from 1,000 to 350. So the big question is: where did all that rubbish go?
As if that wasn’t enough, the SBRC experienced a fire a year ago that, they think, was initiated by spontaneous combustion in their wooden organic materials section. The Center hasn’t fully investigated the matter, which means they don’t yet have a good idea of the source of the incident and that it could happen again.
Finally, the Center has been receiving an increasing number of materials that they have no way to transform or dispose of. People are dropping them off at SBRC simply because they have no idea as to where else they can dispose of these materials. Unfortunately, this occupies space and creates loads of additional work for the Center that it isn’t funded or equipped to do. Among these material, we find: electronics, household appliances, tires and mattresses.
eXXpedition hopes to stay in contact with the Center and find ways to partner with it in order to help find solutions to the mounting challenges it is facing.