You may have watched a video or seen a post or article and said to yourself, “I am ready to start recycling”. But then because there is so much information out there, you wonder what are the items that can be recycled and what can not. Here is how you can crack the code of recycling in Trinidad and Tobago.
Before we begin, let me break down what the term recycling means as it tends to be misused and abused. Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. If it isn’t turned into a new product locally, then it is merely collected, processed and shipped out to be recycled. Knowing these rules and putting them into practice will help you to understand the process and ensure everything that makes it into your bin finds a second life.
FOUR CODE HACKS TO LIVE BY:
- Collect clean plastic bottles, cans, glass, tetrapaks for processing
- Keep food and liquid out of your recyclables
- Collect paper and cardboard for recycling
- Bag all recyclables for the iCare bins
Identify the MYTHS of recycling and become the TOP recycling guru in your home or office
Myth: The recycling arrows (Mobius symbol) on a container means that it can be recycled at SWMCOL’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF)
Answer: Only in some cases
Although the recycling arrows symbol indicates that a product can be recycled, it is important to know which forms can be collected and processed in Trinidad and Tobago. SWMCOL’s MRF only collects plastic beverage containers with numbers 1 and 2 in the arrows. #1 indicates PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and #2 represents HDPE (High Density polyethylene). How would you know which is which? Typically, #1 containers are transparent (see-through) and #2 containers are typically opaque (cannot see through).
Myth: All plastics are the same and can be recycled in Trinidad
There are 7 forms of plastics which exist: #1 – PET (polyethylene terephthalate), #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride), #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), #5 PP (polypropylene), #6 PS (polystyrene commonly known as Styrofoam) and #7 Other. Only numbers 1 and 2 are currently collected in Trinidad and Tobago to be processed and shipped out to be recycled.
Myth: It doesn’t matter what items I put in my bag; it all gets sorted anyway
There are increasing amounts of non-recyclable items sent to the MRF and all of them must be removed by hand by trained staff, so they do not contaminate the high-value items. This increases the cost of recycling, slows down the process and can pose a safety risk to facility staff. Focus only on those items which go into the iCare bin – plastic, glass, cans and tetrapaks beverage containers ONLY. If you’re unsure what to separate out, throw it away in your regular garbage.
Myth: Aerosol cans can be recycled with my other items
Both Aluminum and Steel cans can be accepted as part of the iCare programme. However, only the ones which are used for beverages. A point to note here is that if these types of cans are not empty, they can be dangerous as they have been known to become projectiles when baled if the propellant is still present.
The key to how to crack the code of recycling in Trinidad and Tobago is as, in the game Battleship, you must understand the rules of engagement as it pertains to the specific items and where it all ends up. But rather than make this blog too long and boring, you can download the FULL GUIDE here which details what you can do with items like plastic bottles, food and beverage glass jars, furniture, eWaste and which items must stay out of your collection of recyclables.
Here how you crack the code of recycling and get started:
Item – Plastic Bottles & Containers
Rule – Recycle plastics like empty beverage bottles and jars
Expert Tip – Chasing arrows don’t necessarily indicate recyclability in terms of what specific items are collected. The iCare programme in Trinidad and Tobago only collect beverage containers. Caps are recyclable, but you must put them back on empty containers before throwing them in the bin.
Item – Beverage Cans
Rule – Recycle all empty tin, aluminium, and steel beverage cans.
Expert tip – To determine what kind of can you have, squeeze it! If you can, then it’s made from either alunimium or tin and if you can’t, then it’s made from steel.
Item – Paper
Rule – Recycle Paper, newspaper, and magazines. Drop off your paper at New Age Recycling or contact them to collect the items based on quantities
Expert tip – Soiled and wet paper should be placed in the garbage.
Item – Flattened Cardboard & Paperboard
Rule – Flatten and recycle all cardboard and paperboard.
Expert tip – Break down, flatten and tie cardboard boxes to make room for more materials to fit in your recycling.
Item – Glass Bottles & Containers
Rule – Both food-grade and beverage grade glass can be collected for recycling.
Expert tip – If you use the iCare bins, only beverage glass must be placed in the bin. Check Carib Glassworks on Facebook for more details on bin locations
Download the FULL GUIDE here to see more items and details