Why is it important to REDUCE and REUSE?
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a familiar phrase but what does it really mean? REDUCE is the most important action we can take – to reduce the amount of trash you throw away. Be a smart shopper. Choose items with less packaging. Avoid having to throw out food waste. Buy in bulk when possible rather than individually wrapped items. Then REUSE is next to extend the useful life of something by reusing it. Sell or donate to let someone else use it. Repair or repurpose the item to get the most out of its useful life.
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy – raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-and-reusing-basics#main-content )
What do we RECYCLE in Bermuda?
When the trash truck comes, your household garbage is taken to the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility where it is burned in a controlled system to generate electricity. Therefore, it is important to separate out any non-burnable items from your household waste. You should rinse out all TIN, ALUMINIUM and GLASS items and put them together into a blue recycling bag for bi-weekly curbside collection. The tin and aluminium are sorted at the processing plant located at the Government Quarry in Hamilton Parish. These items are exported and sold in the USA which earns some revenue for the Bermuda Government. The glass is crushed and used locally as a substrate for drainage in construction projects, instead of the need for imported gravel. Recycling these items means that the resource materials can be used again at a fraction of the cost of using raw materials.
In Bermuda, you can also recycle:
- household batteries (drop in the collection tubes at pharmacies and grocery stores)
- vehicle batteries and window air-conditioners (at Tynes Bay Public Drop-Off)
- computers and office photocopy machines (through special arrangement with firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (441) 278-0560.
Why WE DON’T RECYCLE PLASTIC in Bermuda
We do not recycle plastics in Bermuda for several reasons.
(1) We are not trying to divert plastics from a landfill. Other countries separate out plastics in an effort to recycle them because it is important to keep them out of landfills. Plastics do not biodegrade and can leach toxins into the soil and ground water if put into landfills.
(2) Plastics recycling is flawed; it’s a complicated process that does not include many of the seven types of plastics and may involve a large carbon footprint of transportation, costs, and big use of other natural resources.
(3) Often what the consumer sends to be recycled ends up in a foreign country being burned for energy in an uncontrolled incinerator.
(4) Lastly and more importantly, plastic has good calorific value to be burned quickly to generate energy (electricity) if done in a regulated emissions-controlled incinerator which is what we have in Bermuda. In that sense, we “reuse” plastics right here at home to support Bermuda’s energy needs.
Melting or burning plastics at low temperatures (200 – 350 degrees Celsius) in a burn barrel or bonfire is very dangerous to your health because the plastic may smolder and emit toxic fumes that contain dioxins which are known carcinogens. The Tynes Bay Facility safely burns plastics at a very high temperature (800 degrees Celsius) in a closed-loop system. Our Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility is a renewable energy source for Bermuda’s energy needs.
What is the most littered item in Bermuda?
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Bermuda. Many people mistakenly think that cigarette filters are made from cotton and will disintegrate quickly. That is not true. The filters are made from a special type of plastic called cellulose acetate and can take about 10 years to degrade. Meanwhile if they have been carelessly tossed onto the road, it is likely they will be swept down a storm drain the next time it rains. From there they will float out to sea and a bird or turtle will mistake it for food. Plastic, like this, is killing our wild animals and marine life.
The second most littered item in Bermuda is glass bottles – beer bottles. Archeologists studying ancient civilizations have been able to carbon date glass to be 1,000 years old. So potentially all those beer bottles lying in the woods and along our roadsides could be there for a very long time! Not just an ugly blight but a human health hazard too, they trap rainwater and are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It only takes a tablespoon of water and 10 days to hatch a batch of mosquito larvae. Other critters like tree frogs or Bermuda skinks might crawl into the glass bottles and die when they become trapped inside.
What are the best ways to help the environment?
One easy way to take action to protect the environment is to join a KBB Clean Up. Everyone from age 2 to 92 is welcome to participate. Students can earn Community Service credit for school. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved in an outdoor activity. This is a rewarding volunteer activity because you can see the results of your labour right away!
Of course, the best way is to never litter in the first place! But you can help to pick up litter when you see it, and join any of the monthly KBB Clean Ups that are scheduled https://www.kbb.bm/clean-ups/
Other ways to help protect the environment:
- Use a reusable shopping bag for groceries and retail
- Use a reusable water bottle and lunch container
- Say “No thanks” to unnecessary packaging, particularly single-use plastics
- Report any bad areas of littering or illegal dumping to KBB