The Maldives has opened the doors to its first plastics recycling facility, which was built by non-profit group Parley for the Oceans. The ‘plastics lab’ is located in the island nation’s capital Malé and has a capacity of processing 500kg of material every day.
More than 800 tonnes of post-consumer plastic were exported through Parley for the Oceans during the past 18 months to be recycled in Europe, according to the Maldives Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim. He noted that, before the new facility became operational, the island was not able to recycle the material locally.
Ibrahim said he was proud to inaugurate the country’s first-ever plastic recycling plant, which is part of a wider recycling awareness campaign that followed installing the first reverse vending machine as well as 900 waste bins at urban hotspots.
Getting more involved
Shahina Ali, executive director of Parley’s Maldives chapter, says that the ‘plastics lab’ will also serve as a so-called ‘education hub’ where school children may learn about recycling. At the time, students from 45 schools are actively collecting used plastic bottles, bags and other such items to be sent for recycling.
To further boost results, the environment minister is discussing with Parley and waste management service provider WAMCO how to best collect plastic waste from across the country.
What’s more important?
Meanwhile, interest groups have pointed out that the Maldives imported almost 105 million plastic bags last year. It is feared that many of them end up in the waves, thus harming the colourful coral reefs and fish that have made the Maldives so famous.
Also, the construction of a brand-new plastic bottle plant has just been announced, causing the local press to question the government’s priorities. As the Maldives Independent has pointed out; waste generation in Malé alone increased by 155% over the last decade.
It seems that setting up the first recycling facility is a good start, but it will take hard work and a clear focus on circular practices to really make a difference.