Why aren't we enforcing V.I. recycling law?
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The litter problem on St. Croix has improved greatly in the last 25 years. Anyone here in the 1970s should remember the large quantity of paper, bottles and cans littering roadsides. I hope that St. Thomas and St. John have experienced a reduction in roadside litter as well. Unfortunately, with the reduction of litter, the number of abandoned tires on roadsides and countrysides has increased.
This is a problem for the Waste Management Authority to resolve. They are trying, but it is a difficult task without community support.
In the last few months, I have become concerned about the litter. Since HOVENSA closed and the population of the island has decreased, there is an increase in roadside litter and an increase in the posting of signs to trees with nails. I am hoping it is a temporary condition and the islands' residents are not reverting to carelessness about litter.
Fines for littering are a monetary resource the Virgin Islands' has never benefited from. With all the visible litter, I have never seen or heard of someone receiving a ticket for littering or illegal posting of signs.
Litter on our roadsides can be diminished by enforcing the bottle and can deposit law that has been on our books for over 20 years. An acquaintance reminded me of this law; I had forgotten about it. We stopped to chat and wonder why it is not enforced. I have never heard or read that the law was repealed. In fact, I took the time to look at various cans and bottles I recently purchased and discovered that many of them do not have the labeling that they used to have for various stateside deposit requirements. Is this intentional so residents would forget about this ordinance?
I am also concerned that when the law was enacted, it required a 5 cent deposit per can and bottle, which increased the cost of beverages - so we have been paying for a regulation that has not been enforced for 20 years.
If supermarkets do not want to fulfill their obligation of collecting the deposit on bottles and cans , returning the deposits when the cans or bottles are returned, as stated in the law, there is an alternate method. Stores could collect the deposit at the point of sale and make monthly, lump sum payments to specified bottle redemption centers, including The Boys and Girls Club recycling center or privately run redemption centers, located in various parts of each island. These centers would use the stores' monthly deposit payments to pay a few employees and still have money for deposit returns. They would then ship them to recycling centers for additional income.
There are people who are too lazy to return their bottles and cans and this would provide income for operating the redemption centers. Of course, it would be better if the islands' could have our own recycling center to avoid shipping costs.
Not only would this redemption program help reduce litter but schools, students or people wanting additional income could collect bottles and cans for redemption.
The amount of garbage at out dumps and landfill would decrease.
These centers would also help increase the amount of recycling the Virgin Islands participates in - thus reducing the amount of alumina mining and consequently, the amount of heavy metals particulates emitted into the environment since some countries do not have EPA regulations.
I am still wondering why we have community-enhancing laws that are not enforced. Can anyone tell us?
- LeVelle T. Henry, St. Croix