Recycling is Catching on Throughout Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has a reputation for being green, and in many ways, this reputation is well deserved. Thousands of protected acres grace the country’s geography, its environment is strongly protected by law, and Costa Ricans are finding new ways to recycle every day. In recent news, three communities — both business and personal — have made efforts to recycle the country’s leftovers, making treasure out of another man’s trash.
La Cooperativa Dos Pinos, one of Costa Rica’s biggest dairy producers, sells their milk in the popular tetra brik container. The packaging, which is a compound of plastic, aluminum, and cardboard, allows for a very long shelf life, but comes at the price of environmentally unfriendly packaging. Showing their care and concern for the world around them, Dos Piños recently announced that they are building a facility to process 100 tons of tetra brik packaging per month, separating its contents into cardboard and a plastic-aluminum compound. The compound will be used as primary material for many products, including blackboards, chairs, tables, and school desks.
Dos Piños will coordinate its recycling efforts with Costa Rica schools, households, community organizations, and even supermarkets, collecting as many tetra briks as possible. The dairy company has already begun to work with community organizations, and already has other project in the pipeline. After mastering the tetra brik recycling technique, the company plans to recycle their cream cheese, natilla and ice cream containers, as well. Dos Piños will fund an initial ¢100,000 ($183,000) investment in its community efforts.
A fellow Costa Rica company, Recyplast, plans to help do its part, coordinating efforts to combat the environmental contamination associated with the country’s banana, melon, and ornamental plant production. In the Siquirres region alone, the company already recycles 6,000 tons (almost 13,230,000 pounds) yearly. Cultivating bananas is not an easy task, and each bunch must be covered by polyethylene plastic, which is used only once.
To recycle the banana coverings, each farm is responsible for washing and storing the plastic. Every three weeks, Recyplast comes by for a plastic pickup, and takes their bounty back to their plant. Their own process is four-fold: wash the material, grind it up, compact it and covert it into resin. Over the last 14 years, Recyplast’s process has recycled more than 36,000 metric tons (almost 80,000,000 pounds) of banana crop plastic.
Showing that you don’t have to be a big company to make a difference, a local community in Tamarindo has developed its own recycling company, aptly named el Comité Tamarindo Recicla. Every few months, community volunteers get together for trash pickup, a concept that is mimicked in other beach towns such as Tortuguero andPlaya del Coco.
“The idea of recycling is catching on in the community, but it’s growing and we want it to get even bigger. This means that we need more volunteers for recycling day,” recycling superstar, Tony Pavelko, said. So far, Tamarindo community volunteers have collected 7.5 metric tons (16,535 pounds) of recyclable plastic, glass and paper.
The Comité has planned a fashion show, called Trashion Fashion for September 11. All proceeds will be used to help build a proper recycling center for Tamarindo.