March 3, 2012
By Kim Taylor
Trash piles up in Haiti’s ravines, canals and streets until hurricanes and heavy rains come, sweeping huge amounts of trash and thousands of plastic bottles out to sea.
Decades of poor garbage removal from the capitol city of Port au Prince combined with a lack of public awareness of the gravity of the issue has allowed the problem to proliferate. With so many serious problems facing Haiti, including a devastated public infrastructure, economic collapse, disease, hunger, and profound lack of housing, garbage removal is pushed far down the list.
A new effort kicked off on Dec. 8, 2011, however, hopes to combat the problem with recycling centers and cash payouts for recyclables brought in by local Haitians. The centers’ founders hope that financial incentives will encourage people to reduce the amount of garbage tossed aside as well as providing jobs and income for struggling families.
A combined effort of individuals, non-government organizations, non-profits and businesses, including Executives Without Borders, CSS international holdings, Samaritan’s Purse, and Haiti Recycling, resulted in the formation of the “ RAMASE LAJAN” program, which is translated from the Creole meaning “picking up money.”
Recycling centers are up and running in areas of Port Au Prince such as Cite-Soleil, Delmas, Wharf Jeremie, Cite Gerard, Belekou, and others, with plans for more centers in the rest of the capitol, and commitments for centers in the cities of Tabarre, Jacmel, Les Cayes and Cap Haitien.
The goal is for up to 200 centers in all to be created throughout the country. Sponsors envision a program that will lead families and individuals to see recycling as a means to clean up their environment and provide food and clean water.
In the first two months of the program, more than 1,700 community members have delivered recyclable plastic to the centers with a combined total payout of 226,800 Haitian Goudes, equivalent to about $5,670 (U.S.). The average collected per day is 1,757 pounds, which varies by center.
Each recycler earns a payout of 4 Haitian Goudes per pound for PET ( Polyethylene Terephthalate) and Natural HDP (High Density Polyethylene plastic), 2 Goudes per pound for colored HDP plastic.
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