When will Guyanese consumers learn to respect the environment?  

A Guyanese returned to Guyana recently and was horrified when he saw the state of Georgetown, a city that used to be the pride of the West Indies. The roads, drains and trenches are encumbered with plastic bottles and food boxes.  He was recommending that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles should be banned.

In the Sunday Chronicle January 24, 2010 it is reported that Banks DIH is to phase out glass bottles soon.  The report states, “Beverage giant, Banks DIH Limited, is to phase out the soft drinks glass line this year and invest in expanding the output of its PET line. As a consequence, the bottle washer in the Beer Bottling Plant will be replaced with technology which will give the company a greater degree of flexibility in producing a wider variety of malt-related products.

This is according to Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Clifford Reis, in his annual report of the company’s performance in 2009. He said the company’s contractual agreement with Coca-Cola will require in 2010 a capital investment to construct a Waste Water Treatment Plant estimated to cost $200 million.

There have been many meetings held to consider the problem created in the city by the random disposal of PET bottles, but no agreement was reached about the use of these bottles.  We understand that solid waste management at the Mayor and City Council is the body concerned with PET bottles, but telephone calls to that unit went unanswered.  It was time to turn to the internet to learn more about PET bottles.  We found this:-

“Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE or polyester) is commonly used for carbonated beverage and water bottles.  PET provides very good alcohol and essential oil barrier properties, generally good chemical resistance (although acetones and ketones will attack PET) and a high degree of impact resistance and tensile strength.  The orienting process serves to improve gas and moisture barrier properties and impact strength.  This material does not provide resistance to high temperature applications – max. temp. 160*F (71.1* C)

“Plastic bottle material code system

“Recycling has been aided by the creation of The Plastic Bottle Material Code System, also known as the Resin identification code.  The symbols in this system are designed to be easily readable and distinguishable from other markings on the container.  Where this system is in place, these symbols are required to appear on all bottles of size 8oz, and greater.

“The symbols consist of a triangle formed by three “chasing arrows” with a specific number in the center that indicates the material from which the bottle is made.  The number/material equivalents are:

“The code number is also supplemented by the common letter indication for the various resins under the symbol, to serve as a constant verification of the material sorted.  For example, 1 type plastics are made of PETE, 2 and 4 type plastics are made of Polyethylene, 3 type plastics are Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), 5 type plastics are made of Polypropylene, 6 type plastics are made of Polystyrene (PS) and 7 type plastics can be made of a variety of things, such as polycarbonates (some with Bisphenol A) multi-layer structures, etc.  Some numbers are not available to the general public in some areas due to local laws and concerns, 3 and 6 type plastics being the most common.  It is possible that these symbols may change over the time as they are modified for clarity or supplemented to provide more technically specific information.”

Barbados our sister Caricom state is a very good example of recycling plastic bottles, factories like the BUSTA and others.

These companies collect all empty plastic bottles, and pay the vendors or bottle marts. This is a massive drive and that is due to respect for tourists.  This is a worldwide venture that happens in other developed countries.

The tourist will see a motorist drive up to a supermarket, enter the market with a bag (of bottles) and return with a self-satisfied smile.  The motorist is paid for the bottles he delivers.  These are recycled into roofing for houses.

In Guyana these bottles are found in the drains because our consumers pay no attention to the beauty of surroundings. They block the flow of water and cause floods in the city.

When will Guyanese consumers learn to respect the environment?

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