Anyone that has visited Central America knows that trash is a REAL problem…indigenous peoples have not been taught the difference between throwing a banana peel in the forest from throwing a coke bottle…many countries lack the find / resources / facilities for organized trash collection…many people are starving or just barely surviving…why should they care about trash?
It’s shocking to Westerners to see beautiful mountain vistas littered with trash…and a shame. It often bothers me, too.
George, my host in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, decided to do something about it.
Told me how he started his business, INVEMA….he was attending school in the US, and his friends gave him some crap about his not recycling…he didn’t think much of it at the time, but when he returned to his home country, Honduras, and thought of opening a business, he remembered recycling.
George runs the largest recycling business in Central America. INVEMA employs a whole bunch of people, but it does two things even more important: 1. it provides an income for a zillion people who might not otherwise have income, because they pick through trash and recycle what is recyclable and 2. George estimates that about 40% of the roadside trash is collected by these people and brought in for recycling–thus reducing the litter that is such an eyesore.
Pretty dang clever if you ask me.
The claw picks up a giant load of metal and the compactor makes this 300 lb. brick [edited from original post]
And spits one out abut once a minute
They also recycle plastics. Do you know that they have to do a 6-step process in order to get all the glue and paper labels off?
Recycled Water. The capture rainwater, store it it huge vats, use it for a week, then release it without any chemicals in it.
Green plastics waiting for processing
Incoming bales of clear plastic (they have recycling collection facilities all over Central America)
A recycle-r entering the scales
More bales of plastic
Inside the main building
The recycle copper: it gets bought for $3/pound x 400 lbs., so each one of these bales is worth $12,000!!! [edited from original post] They keep these locked up with a guard in a special room. I didn’t count, but it looks like more than 12 bales…
George said they used to have insurance, but he found it cheaper just to hire armed guards.
Call me weird (I am!) but I found this really really fascinating, and am very grateful to George for the tour of San Pedro and surrounds every bit as much as the tour of his facility.