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Tobago

Des Vignes to launch plastic recyling project

Kwesi Des Vignes, Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment, participated in the International Coastal Clean-up at Minister's Bay, Bacolet, last month.
Kwesi Des Vignes, Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment, participated in the International Coastal Clean-up at Minister's Bay, Bacolet, last month.

Kwesi Des Vignes, Secretary for Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment, has said the division is expected to launch a pilot project in plastic recycling in Tobago this month.

He said the division is also to embark on a waste oil recycling project in the first quarter of 2020.

Speaking to Newsday Tobago last month during a clean-up exercise to mark International Coastal Clean-Up 2019 at Little Rockly Bay, Lambeau, Des Vignes said the plastic recycling project will be the first of its kind on the island.

"Once the pilot works well, we will work out all of the modalities and we should be able to expand to more communities and areas throughout Tobago," he said.

"So we are moving towards that as we speak. We are also doing waste oil recycling and we are looking at the first quarter of the new year to get that up and running."

The two-day clean-up, titled Be The Solution, Beat Plastic Pollution, was carried out at several beaches in Tobago, including Courland Bay (Plymouth/Black Rock); Prince's Bay (Roxborough); and Minister's Bay (Bacolet). It saw participation from young people and representatives of several non-governmental organisations and major state and private companies such as the Water and Sewerage Authority and RBC.

Saying Tobago has been participating in the event for the past 15 years, Des Vignes said: "We are really happy to have the amount of volunteers that have come out. We are looking forward to people taking up on that responsibility to be part of the solution to beat plastic pollution. The reality is that everyone has role to play and it is really encouraging to see so many young people come out."

Assemblyman Jomo Pitt, second from left, brings in his plastic collection alongside other volunteers at Little Rockly Bay, Lambeau during the International Coastal Clean Up 2019.

However, Des Vignes said he is deeply concerned about the extent of plastic pollution.

"There is a statistic that says over eight million tonnes of plastic gets into the ocean every year, killing 100,000 sea mammals and one million sea birds."

During this year's clean-up campaign, Des Vignes said he focused on identifying smaller pieces of plastic "because those are the ones that the sea birds and sea mammals ingest and lead to their death.

"We see so many videos with dead sea birds with their stomachs full of plastic or turtles with straws in their noses," he said.

"Although persons were looking for bottles and big pieces of garbage, I really trained my eyes on smaller pieces of plastic, because those also have a major impact on our sea life."

Des Vignes said activities such as the clean-up drive are critical in raising awareness about the negative impact of littering and pollution on the environment.

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