Ocean-Bound Plastics Recycling
Island Green Living has embarked on a groundbreaking program to jumpstart the recycling of ocean-bound plastics here on St. John, allowing this material to be repurposed rather than polluting the sea. As one of the architects of the USVI’s bans on plastic bags, straws, and toxic sunscreen, working closely with the legislature on education and advocacy, this issue is very close to our hearts and critical to island communities such as ours.
Our First Priority is ALWAYS to Reduce Single Use Plastics
Current estimates cite plastic waste entering the ocean at a rate of about 11 million metric tons a year globally, injuring and killing marine life and destroying habitats. But once this plastic is part of the waste stream, our program aims to mitigate and reclaim this material from an unproductive, damaging end of life, where it would otherwise pollute our territory’s waterways and choke our landfills. These plastics can become part of a cycle that allows its usefulness to be extended as valuable products made with recycled materials. It reduces the mining of virgin resources which in turn cuts the energy and greenhouse gas emissions from the production of raw materials. This circular model replaces the current linear model and has environmental and economic benefits.
Initiated through a partnership with PADNOS, a fourth-generation, family-owned recycling company out of Holland, Michigan, our Ocean-Bound Plastic Recycling Program is a game changer on St. John. Community education is a critical aspect of this program.
Island Green Living, located behind VITEMA on Gifft Hill Road just off Centerline, has served for years as a drop-off location for aluminum cans. Now RINSED recyclable #1, 2 and 5 plastics are being collected as well! You can also drop off recyclable plastics in specially marked bins at popular VIWMA trash collection sites across St. John (see link above for locations).
Similar to our Aluminum Recycling Program, these plastics will be sorted and baled at our Recycling Center, then sent to PADNOS where the raw materials will gain a new lease on life.
Please Do Your Part to Help End Plastic Pollution
Island Green continues its campaign to encourage “Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” especially when it comes to disposable plastics. Avoid single use plastic whenever possible. When it can’t be avoided, be sure to recycle. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Why We Should Avoid Single Use Plastic
Plastic has become a serious menace to our environment, using up earth’s precious resources while damaging the health and welfare of humans, plants and wildlife by spreading toxins, causing choking/suffocation hazards for animals, clogging waterways and disrupting the eco-system. When plastics start to degrade, they shed microplastics into the environment, particles smaller than five millimeters across, and scientists are only beginning to study and understand these implications to human and environmental health. Because it is relatively cheap to manufacture, disposable plastic items are produced in staggering quantities and stay with us. Almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists today.
Island Green is committed to reducing the use of single-use plastics in the territory. Plastic was originally created to address food safety concerns — and helped make the modern world possible and “convenient.” Yet it has turned into a monster of a pollution problem for current and future generations to solve. Some studies have even predicted there will be more pieces of plastic in our oceans than fish by the year 2050. The USVI and other islands in the Caribbean are especially vulnerable because everything needs to be brought in or out by boat or ship, creating serious waste management issues. Our locale also makes us susceptible to increasingly severe storms caused by climate change, which is exacerbated by greenhouse gases created by the plastics industry. And lastly, our reliance on tourism economically causes a paradox – visitors are drawn by our natural beauty, yet the one million visitors annually put additional stress on our already fragile ecosystem.
We are proud that our efforts to educate and build awareness have aided in the passage of the Plastic Bag Ban and Plastic Straw Ban in the USVI.
We continue our efforts to educate the public on the dangers of single use plastic and discouraging its use. Everyone can do their part by making a conscious effort to avoid disposable plastic wherever and whenever possible.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I know if my plastics is a #1, 2 or 5?
Most commonly used plastic will have a resin code listed somewhere on the material, typically on the underneath side and look like this:
If there is no resin code then follow this general guide to assist in determining if this type of plastics can be recycled in our program.
How clean do my plastics have to be?
All containers need to be completely empty of their contents. Bees and flies are attracted to leftover residue, and pose a threat to the staff processing the material, so a quick rinse to remove most of the residue is greatly appreciated. We understand water is a scarce and precious resource so just use enough to give the material a quick rinse, it does not have to be squeaky clean.
Should I bag my plastics?
If you are dropping your material at one of the three bin locations around the island, yes, your material should be placed in a garbage bag before being placed in the bin. If you are dropping plastics at our facility off Gifft Hill Road, then no, you can bring loose material and place in one of our recycling carts out front our main gate. You may also bring bagged material to our facility.
Should I take the caps off bottles?
Yes, please. Take the caps off all bottles but include them in your recycling bag. We will be bagging these separately for shipment back to our recycling partners.
Should I remove labels on bottles?
No, labels can remain on material.