San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Environmental group drops 'bottle bomb' sculpture on downtown San José

A 40-foot tall missile disrupted Monday morning in the Avenida Central shopping district in downtown San José.

An environmental group, Preserve Planet, created the 12-meter high sculpture to highlight the environmental damage of the missile’s material — plastic bottles.

The sculpture’s artist, Francesco Bracci, oversaw the installation of his piece above the walkway on Avenida Central, near the National Theater. A crane and a crew cordoned off half of the avenue, while the missile suspended over pedestrians with the help of wires attached to buildings on both sides of the street.

“It’s a direct statement,” Bracci said in an interview. “It is a direct bombardment, a bombardment that affects beaches, seas and everything.”

Bracci said the organization’s goal is to convince Costa Ricans to pressure businesses to switch from plastic bottles to glass bottles.

“Recycling is one option, but it is not the only option,” Bracci said. “Reusing is the No. 1 option.”

The site of the sculpture is one of the major shopping centers in Costa Rica, attracting thousands each day to its clothing stores, beauty salons and restaurants.

Bracci, from the San José’s southwestern suburb of Escazú, created a similar work to highlight air pollution. His “Urban Lung” sculpture sits behind a row of bus stops in the central neighborhood of La California, only slightly east of the site of his latest work.

In Costa Rica, the options for a consumer to recycle, even glass bottles, are few. Trash pickup does not have options for separating recyclable material from garbage such as in the United States. The government does not sort through trash to separate recyclables as in some other Latin American countries, such as Argentina.

Páginas Verdes, a yellow pages for eco-conscious consumers, has a posted list of recycling centers in Costa Rica — called “centros de acopio” in Spanish.

Luis Marín, regional coordinator for Preserve Planet, said projects like the giant missile are aimed at public education.

“If the people push for returnable bottles, it will get businesses to change,” Marín said in a phone interview.

The missile sculpture is composed of 8,000 plastic bottles, Marín said, only a fraction of the estimated 666 million consumed by Costa Ricans every year.

Marín’s group will continue to plant striking images to affect the public’s perception, and their next project aims to address air pollution in Costa Rican schools.

Plastic Bomb 2

A view from below the missile sculpture. Artist Francesco Bracci used 8,000 plastic bottles to make his missile sculpture.

Alberto Font

Contact Corey Kane at ckane@ticotimes.net5

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