THE Earth Day announcement by Massey Stores on 22nd April 2018 — of its plans to reduce the distribution of plastic bags throughout its stores and protect the environment and thus to charge customers for each plastic bag — was greeted with an unfortunate and surprising level of criticism, even by some popular and influential personalities, who unfairly focussed on the expected positive impact on that company’s finances. Perhaps a forgivably one-sided and knee-jerk reaction to the spectre of greater charges at the supermarket, by a proud yet poor people. On the other hand, if we carefully considered the origin of the announcement and its perceived impact on effecting change (if you pardon the pun) then we might conclude that such an announcement represent a colossal failure of our regional governments, and in equal and resounding measure.
As an ICT professional, it causes me some grief that the very industry in which I work is a significant contributor to the generation of toxic e-waste. Partly for this reason, it was very welcome news to note a private entity’s plans to help rid us of the scourge of plastic waste that dots our roadside, shoreline, and perhaps our psyche!
On the international technology scene, you might be aware that a 33-year-old American e-waste recycler and millionaire tech-entrepreneur named Eric Lundgren is about to serve a 15-month prison sentence for diverting e-waste from landfills by refurbishing older computers. His refurbishing programme fell foul of the law and the licence income of the software giant Microsoft, which was forced to do some damage control form the negative publicity arising from the case.
Our reality of living in a small island state, where the natural beauty should be regarded as a state asset especially given our dependence on tourism, should force us to embrace initiatives that lead to maintaining and improving this natural beauty. Should we care more that a private entity is poised to make money in this beautification process? The historical inability or unwillingness of successive administrations to divert waste from our countryside and landfills is somehow lost on some of us. A fifty-cent piece on the ground still retains its value. Hopefully, we shall come to recognise the value of all discarded material around us.
It is sobering to read that the Solid Waste Management Authority’s Waste Characterisation Study of 2008 which indicates that 22 percent of our waste comprises plastics, and 45 percent is organic material that could be diverted, to extend the life of the Deglos landfill site. At some point, a new landfill will be needed, perhaps near your community, 45 percent sooner than necessary. Surely, any organisation that does the job of the government deserves to collect the revenue of the government for the service provided. Change does start with us. A combined lesson in citizen empowerment, and in taking a lead in restoring the health of our country.
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About the Author
Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, design, and capacity building.