Sometime last year I said I would write about bottle banks ( Yes, I can see why it slipped your memory) so, when we came back through the airport where they proudly and loudly announce:
I was reminded to look it up.
Incidentally, when I listened to this affirmative statement at the airport on returning to Bermuda after Christmas it actually made me feel like I was returning home – so its taken 8 months, now Bermuda is home (for the time being) 🙂
Bermuda does indeed recycle, and it even has a page on Facebook to tell you all about it!
But I come from UK and over the years have spend many hours at the “dump” (recycling facility) carefully sorting my rubbish into the appropriate containers, so when I saw that Bermuda is talking about “just” tin, aluminium and glass (TAG) I was initially underwhelmed. Reading around the topic has informed me that recycling on a tiny island in the Atlantic is not altogether that simple and I am actually quite impressed with what they have achieved.
Prior to 1991 everything went into landfill at the Marsh Folly Site in Pembroke – 80,000 tonnes of rubbish per year during the late 1980s.
The landfill site is now awaiting reformation into an amenity and a waste management facility was installed at Tyne’s Bay, Devonshire.
Now they still incinerate non-recyclable waste and try to extract energy from it to feed into the power grid. This system is capable of providing about 2.5% of the islands energy requirements.
Recycling began in 1991 and received a boost in 2007 when the government built a new recycling facility that is capable of processing 25 tons of tin, aluminium and glass daily. It is also set up to process other recycling such as electronic waste, but not, as yet, plastics.
What happens to it?
The tin and aluminium are crushed into bales and taken by container ship to US
Glass is crushed and mixed with concrete, then used for reclaiming land, roads, building etc.
Are there any bottle banks?
I thought bottle banks in supermarket carparks had been around forever, but was surprised to discover they only appeared on the scene in 1977. While there are over 50,000 in UK, I am not sure there are any in Bermuda – if you can find one please send me a photo and I will …. ( no, not eat my hat)
However, we have curb side collections of TAG – put yours in a blue plastic bag on a Thursday (west end) or Friday (east end) and they (hopefully) will be gone by the time you get home from work.
During our second week on the island I innocently asked a local
“Where can I get some more blue plastic bags?”
The response was a surprised “At the supermarket” (duh).
So I looked – absolutely nothing on the shelves bar the usual white, transparent or black plastic bags. Maybe it was a particular supermarket – so I went to the one on Front Street (the one I call Waitrose because it sells some of Waitrose basics range which makes me feel at home) …. No blue plastic bags. Maybe Marketplace has them …. Neither they nor Miles Market (the really expensive one by the Hamilton Princess Hotel) had any packs of blue plastic bags. I gave up.
Then, later that week (on Wednesday because you get a discount on Wednesday if you pay in cash) I happily spent an hour wandering around Lindo’s (the big one on Brighton Hill Road) and realised at the checkout I had only brought one re-usable (hessian with ladybird) bag with me …
I needn’t have worried, because there they were – free, blue and obvious – plastic bags for recycling, they put your shopping in them at the till ……
That’s my recycling, not my shopping!
There is a waste management page on the gov.bm website – it could do with some updates as the data is three years old. But the essence is that 109 containers of recycled stuff was shipped off-island during 2010. ( http://www.gov.bm )
Keep Bermuda Beautiful ( http://www.kbb.bm ) is an environmental charity who organise monthly clean-ups of specific areas – essentially litter-picking but also repainting of graffiti or re-graffitiing artistically.
Greenrock ( greenrock.org ) focusses on sustainable solutions and one of the noteworthy events last year was an island-wide “Earth Hour” when everyone is encouraged to switch off the lights for an hour – this year it is Saturday March 29th at 8:30pm. This is a worldwide event so we can do it together (though maybe it would go against the essence of the event if we skyped at the same time to share the moment 😦 )
Tynes Bay Waste Facility ( http://rossgo.com/Tynes%20Bay/Incinerator.html ) has it’s own website with a basic but informative PowerPoint presentation – the best slides are the cut-away diagrams of the machinery. They will give tours to small groups – maybe I could persuade my husband’s office it would be a community-minded thing to do.
It is after all vaguely related, to waste management, if not recycling.
A website on sustainable development in Bermuda (http://www.sdbermuda.bm ) extrapolates from a 2007 UK study on graveyards that by 2037 Bermuda’s burial grounds will be full. But there is no crematorium here so the options are limited.
The Bermuda National Trust lists 7 cemeteries of historical interest, my favourite so far being The Royal Naval Cemetery in the west end of the island – the inscriptions describe yellow fever, infections and accidents.
The graveyards attached to the Churches seem to have many whitewashed tombs neatly rising from the grassy slopes, most oblong but one or two shaped more poignantly. I am told these belong to families and new coffins are added as required.
I suppose it surprised me that burial at sea or cremation is not a feature of island life.
The Airport Dump
For all the flights I have made into and out of Bermuda this last year I have not actually seen the airport waste facility that, according to Bermuda-online ( www.bermuda-online.org ), is visible on the approach to land. It is a land and sea-fill site for cars, bulky goods, TVs, rubble and many other things that have not been recycled. It has been a waste site for over 40 years, though reports indicate that less is dumped here of recent times. Contamination of the water must be an issue and it is perhaps surprising that we dont hear more about this on a regular basis.
King Edward VII Memorial Hospital disposes of solid waste with a bio-oxidizing process. It produces gases which heat the hospital’s boiler, water and laundry, to save on energy costs.
It crosses my mind that if this facility exists then could it’s use not be extended to cremation as well?
Back to the future
After researching about waste management and recycling I am enthused about the three R’s:
So this morning I have bought some sticky-backed plastic ( that Blue Peter influence again) and am going to make my old coffee cans into “really-useful-tins” 🙂