Cardboard baler now part of waste recycling plant

The nation’s sole waste recycling facility has added a cardboard baler worth US $15,500 to its plant as it seeks to expand its operations on the island.

The non-profit Antigua & Barbuda Waste Recycling Company (ABWREC), which is run by the Rotary Club of Antigua Sundown, received a US $15,000 grant from the environmental group Seacology for the project.

The club then raised further funds to pay for the extra US $2,000 needed to purchase and install the machine.

ABWREC Chairman Mario Bento said the equipment will allow the facility to divert several thousand pounds of cardboard from crowding the island’s main landfill.

“If we had the cardboard coming in and we had a dedicated operator on it all the time, we can probably do at least one or two tonnes a day. And a container is about 20 tonnes, so certainly if we had a dedicated operator and cardboard coming in every day, we could certainly do a container every week or two,” Bento said.

“We want to get as much cardboard as we can get from all around Antigua — from businesses particularly. If we could do three or four containers of cardboard a year, I think we would be doing very well. We would be making a significant dent in the cardboard being taken to the Cook’s Sanitary Landfill.”

Bento said the cardboard baler went into operation about two weeks ago and the task now is to convince as many businesses as possible to arrange for collection by ABWREC.

Bento said he is confident there will be enough cardboard on the island to meet the 40,000 pounds needed to fill a single container.

“If we look at Barbados, which has about four times our population, they are shipping about four or five containers of cardboard out a month. So, certainly, I am sure we are generating at least 20 tonnes or a container a month here and if we can get at least a third of that, that will help,” he said.

Bento said the plant, however, will have to use its metal recycling operations to subsidise the operation since the US $120 per tonne price they are likely to receive for the cardboard will be unable to cover the cost of the process.

The cardboard baler was officially commissioned Wednesday at ABWREC with a ceremony that involved representatives from Seacology, the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), the Environment Division, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Rotary Club of Antigua Sundown.