On Saturday, June 25th students of the inclusive education center Hogar del Niño and Waste-Free Oceans’ volunteers cleaned the banks of the river Río Salado in La Romana, Dominican Republic. With this activity, Waste Free Oceans started its Caribbean Roadshow consisting of cleanups and educational projects in the Caribbean islands. This new Roadshow’s main objective is to raise awareness among local communities and authorities of the damage caused by plastic pollution, both to the environment and to human health, therefore enhancing better plastic waste management, but it also represents the starting point of a much larger project.

Cleanup

During the cleanup of Río Salado, and thanks to the support of their partner Papier-Mettler who provided them with the waste bags, the group removed 40 bags filled with a majority of plastic waste. The collected waste has been taken by the municipality to be further sorted and recycled locally. The fruitful collaboration between both the Hogar del Niño and Waste Free Oceans enabled the success of this cleanup.  The waste found on the banks of the river comes from the houses on the hill above it. In fact, people throw their waste on the ground which, when it rains, ends up on the banks of the river. As this practice never stops, the amount of waste accumulates over the years and in some places, it is impossible to even see the ground. Through this cleanup, Waste Free Oceans (WFO) aims to show the visible consequences of littering and the massive amount of work needed in order to cleanse the affected areas. The group also had the great pleasure of receiving the visit from Patricia Villegas y Orlando Salvador, spouse, and son of the late Orlando Jorge Mera, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, who gave them hope for a future without plastic littering in the Dominican Republic.

Waste Free Oceans projects

The educational projects carried out by WFO are intended to help the younger generation to understand the issue of plastic waste and the importance of protecting their environment. They also aim, through all the communication surrounding the project, to get the local communities to take similar actions and hopefully change their behavior as well.

Waste Free Oceans has also partnered with Jorge Rizek of Rizek Vidal Recycler a recycling facility in Santo Domingo and has plans to build a recycling plant in the Dominican Republic that would be supplied with all the plastic waste of the whole Caribbean region and would make use of chemical recycling to reprocess plastic waste that cannot be mechanically recycled and which would eventually be turned into green fuel used by the local community. The recycled plastic will also be used to build social houses and emergency shelters. This project would strengthen a local circular economy but also create new job opportunities for the Dominicans and the Caribbean region. WFO would like to thank all their sponsors and the support of the airline TUI Fly, which kindly paid for the flight tickets to allow WFO’s team to come to the Dominican Republic in order to develop our projects there. This educational project will be followed by other cleanups with volunteers and by the use of the waste-catching trawl, this time with the support of their partner the International eyewear producer ECO, with whom we created eyewear made of recycled material from earlier cleanups. Stay tuned! Below is a gallery of pictures taken by Mairobi Herrera during the cleanup of Río Salado in La Romana:
ABOUT WASTE FREE OCEANS Waste Free Oceans (WF0) is a non-profit organization that mobilizes the fisheries sector, the pIastics industry, brand owners, and the wider public in order to reduce the impact of marine litter in the oceans. WFO’s operations focus on marine litter cleanups and “CIosing the Loop” projects, enabling new and innovative products to be designed and produced from the collected ocean waste. The initiative uses existing fishing trawls and new technology to collect floating marine litter and bring it back to land for recycling and sorting. The fishermen involved in this operation are compensated. Find more information on: https://www.wastefreeoceans.org/ Contact: CIara Hoyas, Communications Executive at WFO, cIara.hoyas@wastefreeoceans.org