Back in 2006, students of the 4-H club were collecting plastic for Recycling in Motion (RIM). Their activities gave Farmer the drive to write a business proposal in December 2006 for a bigger plastic waste collection project.
An environmental enthusiast, recycling is close to Farmer’s heart. She has been recycling household plastic waste for three years.
This year, she finally introduced and launched Plastikeep at the Hyatt Regency. Plastikeep is a community and environmental pilot project led by Farmer, who is project manager for the Greenlight network. The Greenlight network aims to increase awareness and diminish the volume of plastic deposited in Trinidad’s landfills.
“This project depends on the participation of everyone and the aim is to help people understand their role in waste disposal,” she said.
But before the celebration on May 13, Farmer said there were rough patches as the private sector did not respond favourably.
Now Plastikeep is supported by the Ministry of Planning, Housing and the Environment via its Green fund initiative.
In December 2009, Minister of Planning, Housing and the Environment Dr Emily Dick Forde certified a grant for $852,281 to undertake their project.
Plastikeep’s service does not include the process of recycling, but provides the public with direct access to it through the facilitation of plastic waste recovery.
There are only a few plastic processing facilities in Trinidad and Tobago and Plastikeep partners with Piranha International Limited and Recycling in Motion (RIM). These organisations collect the plastic waste from donors and process it to send abroad to recycling companies.
Nadine Lakatoo, environmental project manager at Piranha International, applauded Greenlight network’s initiative.
“Plastikeep project is very important. The business of collecting and shipping plastic is not a lucrative one in Trinidad and Tobago…but it is all about giving back,” Lakatoo said.
She also pointed out that as citizens are not fully educated on the importance of collecting the plastic for proper disposal, few shipments are sent abroad.
Farmer hopes Plastikeep’s service will change the dynamics of plastic waste disposal by encouraging everyone to collect their household plastic for later distribution to the companies. Already, she has received numerous calls from companies wishing to participate in her drive.
Her other wish for this project is for it to be nationalised.
“I hope that the project will feed into the national policy…maybe help inform the national policy and maybe even be implemented in all schools,” she said. The Plastikeep service is set for a one-year duration. Because it’s a pilot project, the targeted areas are within the northwestern part of the country including Blue Range, Crystal Stream, Diamond Vale, Goodwood Park, Petit Valley, Victoria Gardens, and Westmoorings.
Three schools also participate in the project - Crystal Stream Government Primary School, Central Diego Martin Secondary School and Dunross Preparatory School.
Volunteers from the “Plastikeep” team, Piranha International and RIM are willing to do free presentations in schools all over the country to educate them about the processes involved in plastic waste disposal.
Residents are urged to dispose of their plastic waste in transparent or semi-transparent bags and placed into the specially installed bins.
There will be door-to-door collections in the aforementioned areas and their trucks will collect the waste twice a week. After weekly collection, the plastic will be shipped to a processing facility to be sorted, chipped, bailed and shipped for recycling abroad.