As part of our Clean Streets, Clean Waters Project, we wanted to find out more about where our garbage in Costa Ballena goes and what happens to recyclables if they are thrown out with the trash. We took a trip to the Municipality of Osa before the 2015 holidays to meet with Yanitza Rojas and to the landfill where our weekly garbage ends up.
As we prepare for 2016, we want to share with you a few things we learned so that you can keep this in mind as we continue to try and keep our streets clean and oceans free of debris. Because in the end, it’s up to us to take responsibility for the waste we generate.
Where does my trash go?
Trash picked up weekly from the Municipality of Osa is taken to a landfill that has been in operation for 34 years. The landfill is just south of the bridge in Palmar Norte. In 2016, there are plans to open a new receiving station on the property. This new center will be covered and will enable the workers protection from the sun.
Can I recycle?
Yes. Currently 3 groups, or families totaling 25 people, have received permission from the Municipality of Osa to separate recyclable materials from the trash, daily when the trash arrives on site. These families receive payment from selling the recycled goods back to the companies of Florida Bebidas and VICESA. Each bottle has a price and that price varies by the color or the material.
Should I separate my recyclables from my trash?
Currently No, but in the near future, Yes. In the current situation, each of the three families works for themselves. What they pull as recyclables is what they are sell. In 2016 when the new receiving station is opened, the three families will work together to sell the recyclable materials they pull from the garbage. Thus, in the future, they will work together and split the profits accordingly.
The current leader for all three families has stated that in the future, to have recycled materials separated from trash will be beneficial and will improve their productivity. To do so now, would mean that families will continue to keep bags of recycled materials to themselves. These bags may not see the landfill because they will have been set aside for their family to collect the profit.
In the coming months we expect to hear from Yanitza that the new Receiving Station has been opened and that separation of materials will be beneficial to the workers at the landfill. Until this point, if you do separate, keep in mind that it will help only certain families and continue to promote competition. We are working with Yanitza to develop a solution to help residents label or identify what materials are recyclable and what is general trash such as placing recyclable materials in green or transparent bags. Or something such as a label on the bag.
What materials are recycled?
Glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminum cans are currently recycled. The Municipality does not currently have the capacity to recycle paper or cardboard. Paper and cardboard cannot get wet, and the Municipality does not have a storage location that will prevent paper and cardboard from getting wet before it is shipped off to another part of Costa Rica to be recycled.
See more photos on Flickr.