Recycling, today, has turned into a relevant factor which contributes to positively impact the environment, important for both nature and humans. We must act fast as the amount of waste we produce is increasing all the time. News on Sunday met the executive members of the association Mission Verte in Curepipe and other recycling companies to find out more about how we, as Mauritians, need to proceed.
Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from rubbish in landfill sites. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste. It requires much less energy and therefore helps to preserve our natural resources. Mission Verte is a Mauritian association committed in protecting the environment through awareness and positive engagements. Created in early 2007, it now has 200 members. For Véronique Menagé, administrative assistant of the association, more and more Mauritians are becoming aware that recycling of certain types of waste is not only possible but also essential. “Our sorting bins are filling up promptly and a constant demand for the setting up of new sorting bins are positive signs that demonstrate an increased awareness among the population,” she asserts.
Mission Verte acts as an intermediary between the public and recyclers. “We have sorting bins where you can drop paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum cans (containers for drinks, not cans). Our trucks then recover these wastes and send them to recycling companies in Mauritius or export them for the same purpose,” explains Véronique Menagé. Other wastes that can be recycled are all plants for compost, glass, electrical appliances, electronics, batteries and some light bulbs.
Avoid polluting nature
According to Véronique Menagé, Mauritians can contribute by adopting a sorting culture at home. “We must not throw away recyclable wastes with other wastes intended for Mare Chicose and especially not throw it in empty spaces in nature, like any other waste,” she advises. In her opinion, household wastes should be recycled for primarily two reasons: The first is to prevent from using all the raw materials that will be exhausted, but rather reuse those that are already there. Secondly, the landfill is soon reaching the level of saturation. It is better to avoid polluting nature by not throwing everything.
To raise awareness of the pollution problems among the population, the association organizes regular awareness sessions. The formula to shrink excessive volume of waste is simple: Reduce, reuse and recycle. “When we shop for items, it is important to evaluate the amount of waste they will produce. It is better to buy products that have less packaging, or recyclable and compostable packaging. Most important, recycling should become a part of our daily lives and become an instinctive habit,” she declares. The latter believes that everyone’s small actions, which might seem insignificant, are in fact very important and help to safeguard our environment.
Before sensitizing people to recycling in the future, Véronique Menagé thinks that it will be more significant to think “reduce, reduce” above all else. “Because the object that was made from recyclable products will also become a waste one day,” she concludes.
Ajay Jahree, director of Ecology Bags co Ltd : “We must completely ban plastic in Mauritius”
For Ajay Jahree, the director of Ecology Bags co Ltd at Riche Mare, Mauritians still have a lot to learn about recycling because they favour plastic bags a tremendous lot in Mauritius. “Mauritians have no idea that plastic is harmful to environment. Biodegradable plastics for instance, take about six months to fade away into the wild, while paper is diluted in just a few days when it comes into contact with water,” he explains. In his opinion, it is high time to completely ban the use of plastic in Mauritius to preserve our country from damages in future.
His company Ecology Bags co Ltd imports paper from India and China to produce paper bags and cups. He has to import paper from abroad, as there is currently no recycling paper mill in Mauritius. “I created this company with the goal of protecting the environment. By focusing on recycled paper, we are protecting nature and the trees that are being destroyed to manufacture more paper,” he adds. Ajay Jahree believes that it is our duty to protect our environment for the good of everyone on the planet and for the future generations.
Denis Poonen of Compagnie Mauricienne de Commerce Ltée : “The Government must undertake more aggressive campaigns”
The Compagnie Mauricienne de Commerce Ltée, located in Pailles, retread used tyres of trucks and buses. The company, which represents the international franchise of Bandag in South Africa, retreads an average of 2,000 to 3,000 tyres in a month, thus totalling about 25,000 tyres that could have ended up in the midst of nature each year. Denis Poonen argues that a tyre can take 100 years to disintegrate, which represents an enormous danger to our environment. “Insects like mosquitoes hide in these tyres and are often a source of epidemics and diseases,” he advances. With a recycled or retread tyre, a person can cover more than 90,000 km and this helps to reduce the number of tyres in the wild. “Fortunately, with the awareness of the media, people are becoming more mindful of their environment and for this reason, the number of our customers is increasing steadily,” he continues. He believes that the Government should opt for more aggressive national awareness campaigns in this direction “The future of our country is in the hands of young people. They need to become more conscious of the importance of a healthier environment,” he concludes.
Michel Moonien of Paperlink : “Mauritians must adopt a culture of sorting waste”
The Paperlink company, based in Riche Terre, collects about 400 to 500 tonnes of recyclable waste every month, which they send to India for recycling. “The number may give the impression of being enormous but it is a very low figure, compared to the waste that goes to the dumping ground every month. Most Mauritians do not have a culture of sorting waste in our country,” he says. He believes that recycling companies play a crucial role in our country because they use people’s waste in an environmentally friendly way. “More companies and more people need to be involved in environmental preservation,” he suggests.
Michel Moonien is of the opinion that the Government must encourage people to sort out their household wastes by offering them recycling bins. “If we make it easier for people in this way, the Government can make our people environmentally responsible,” he advises. At its level, Paperlink has vehicles to collect recyclable waste across Mauritius and sets up trash cans in several offices for the collection of recyclables. Regarding the theme of this year, “Recycling in the future,” Michel Moonien manifests personal optimism. “Young people are seriously considering recycling as an alternative. Many young academics invite us into seminars to raise awareness about recycling,” he affirms. His advice to Mauritians: “Our future is in our hands. It’s up to us to decide what kind of environment we want our lungs exposed to, what kind of oxygen we would like to breathe.”
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