Existing bottle act must be amended
In the first two instalments Charles told us not to allow the ugliness of the plastic debris floating along our shoreline, in our rivers, on our beaches and drains, to become an accepted part of our national psyche, and warned that if we fail to take measures to begin recycling we could be faced with a crisis situation on our hands requiring drastic measures.
This week, Charles, using his experience of working with the largest contract manufacturing plastics plant in T&T, suggests a way forward.
Having built and operated the largest contract manufacturing plastics plant in Trinidad and Tobago, we have over the years acquired an intimate knowledge of plastics and its applications.
It is a major challenge to select the most appropriate grade or combination of plastics for particular applications, as one has to factor in the processes available to the manufacturer, the equipment to be used, the product to be made and resin prices and availability before selecting a particular resin for a specific use.
This results in a diverse range of plastic types and grades ending up in our dumps and the general environment.
This presents challenges to recyclers, as very often the diverse types of plastics are incompatible with each other and do not bond or mix if they are simultaneously processed by traditional methods.
This effectively means that all previous attempts at recycling plastics have had to incorporate a complex sorting and grading exercise. This was needed to ensure that similar or compatible resins were processed together when being recycled into another generation of products.
In addition, external contaminants such as printing inks, trace elements of the products formerly stored in bottles, labels and glue all contributed to the problem.
Our extensive research has resulted in an alliance with a European technology supplier who has pioneered extensive research and development and come up with a viable solution for the efficient collection and recycling of a wide range of common plastic products.
This means we are not only able to process plastic bottles, caps and bags, but can also consider plastic toys, computer cases, automobile components, furniture, kitchenware, televisions, air conditioners and household fans to mention a few.
When one considers that many of these products were not originally considered worthy of attention in the drafting of the original bottle act, we now realise the limited scope and the wide range of products that would have been omitted by the act in its existing format.
It is therefore obvious that the legislation would be better served by a more comprehensive counter-proposal that is not only limited to plastic bottles, but would cover all plastic products, since we generate and therefore would have to dispose of considerable quantities of plastic waste.
Additionally, it is our understanding that the act in its existing format does not emphasise the application or identification of some intended uses for the recycled raw materials and revenues thus collected.