Dear Tico Times:
Our municipality just issued a mandate requiring everyone to sort garbage into five categories: paper, plastic, glass, metal and other. Bags must be clear plastic so that their contents are readily visible, thus making the sorting process easier.
The obvious objective is recycling. Despite its reputation as the most environmentally conscientious country in Central America, the fact remains that most Costa Ricans do not practice recycling. This fact may be confirmed by a visit to any general garbage collection site in the country. But why should they? Fully operational recycling facilities that sort, separate, compact and distribute to businesses that reprocess recyclables are very rare in Costa Rica.
Contrary to general perception, effective recycling does not start with the individual. Actually, it works backwards from the efficiently operated recycling center, through a coordinated collection network and finally to individual homes. It is imperative to make recycling relatively easy (and inexpensive) for everyone. A box of those clear plastic bags costs $4. Why not supply them free to ensure their use?
Many cities that are really serious about recycling actually provide every home with at least two large, heavy-duty plastic boxes for glass, metal and plastic that are picked up twice monthly.
Recycling is a major undertaking that requires support from everyone. Hopefully Costa Rica soon will join other countries that have made recycling a major priority.