Greenrock, KBB, the Government's own Department of Waste Services, schools and parents have been working for decades to increase recycling rates in Bermuda. By threatening to close the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) the Government is giving children the message that we don't care enough today to conserve increasingly scarce resources, which they will need in the future.

So why is it important to recycle? Because glass, aluminium and tin are non-renewable resources which are environmentally damaging to refine, and which can be reused relatively easily. The glass can't be recycled in Bermuda so is available for reuse as gravel or road base, reducing the need for us to import more resources from overseas. The tin and aluminium is sold overseas to be melted down and reused, rather than ripping out the hearts of mountains to produce more virgin tin and aluminium for our beans and beer cans. What will happen to these resources if we close the MRF? Will they all just go into the incinerator? The incinerator is not designed to burn glass, tin or aluminium. What will be our alternative?

Not only does this proposal disrespect our children and their future, but it runs counter to the momentum in the world today. The World Economic Forum in Davos last month declared that the next decade will be the decade of the environment. In New York there is a new restaurant movement which uses food that would have gone to waste – chicken carcasses are used for stock, broccoli stalks for gratin. The tiny island of Aruba will no longer need fossil fuel to produce its electricity in less than 10 years, and it has enlisted heavyweights from Harvard University, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Carbon War Room to help it make this transition. The rest of the world is getting serious about the environment and Bermuda is going in the opposite and wrong direction.

Bermuda is in a financial crunch and has to either find ways to save money, or to cover costs. Here are some of our ideas: The government spends more than $20M a year on electricity – basic energy efficiency programs could save millions of dollars. We could fine people who don't recycle, in order to help cover the costs of recycling; we could add a few cents extra for each bottle as it is imported to pay for subsequent collection and recycling. Shutting down the MRF is knee-jerk, short term thinking. We should be asking the question, how do we find a way to do the right thing, to reduce the valuable material that gets thrown away, to save some raw materials for the children that we have been educating?

Now over to you. At Greenrock we have always said that we would love to go out of business: for it to no longer be necessary to constantly remind people to live in such a way that the environmental cost of all of our decisions is already weighed. This declaration from the Government says to us that we are needed more than ever – our mission: to engage the community to share solutions for a sustainable future, is more relevant than ever. Let's come up with solutions together. If you have ideas contact Greenrock at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contribute to our mission by becoming a member.

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