The Andaman and Nicobar
islands, a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal, are not only home to some of
the most beautiful beaches in Asia but also to one of the last remaining
hunter-gatherer tribes in the world . Having recovered from the 2004 Tsunami
that hit the region, several guest houses and dive centers have opened up on
the islands bringing in tourists to experience the beauty of these islands.
However, with an increase in tourism comes an increase in waste. The lack of an
effective recycling infrastructure, plastic is dumped or burnt with bottles and
plastic bags ending up in the forests and even the beaches, affecting the
marine life tremendously - an example of which you can see in the picture of
the turtle chewing on a plastic bag at the top of this page. The local
government has recently banned the use of all plastic bags, a commendable move
in the right direction - however, a significantly larger effort needs to be
made to preserve this beautiful place. GreenLife decided to do something about
The GreenLife Society, an NGO based in the Andaman
Islands with everything from protecting coral reefs and to creating awareness
about the regions indigenous Dugong sea mammal, is now setting up a plastic
recycling plant to collect and grind plastic of all types before being sent
back to mainland India.
With help from the Finnish Embassy, GreenLife has already
made serious headway with this project. The plastic recycling center itself is
already operational in the capital, and is currently grinding away 40 tons of
plastic a month. GreenLife has also distributed recycling bags to numerous
resorts and restaurants that have contractually agreed to help with the sorting
and collecting of the garbage. Talks were held with the local government that
resulted in being offered the aid of over 300 officers and armed forces
personnel to help with collection of all the waste already on the island. Free
transportation for all processed plastics for the next 3 years was also
guaranteed, and is why we are in such a hurry to get things going ...
The Recycling Project:
GreenLife has spent the last 3 years setting up this
unit, and has met many of the project's initial targets. Unfortunately, there
is now a lack of funds to complete the project, preventing the installation of
a grinding machine on the island Havelock. Havelock island is to serve as a
pilot for the project's waste collection phase from the small islands. Havelock
island has the biggest influx of tourist, it would then have the capability to
easily prepare plastic bottles for shipping to the main recycling center in
Port Blair. It is very important to get this setup soon, to benefit from the
now pro-recycling mindsets GreenLife has managed to inculcate in people on the
islands, and to make full use of the government subsidies they have worked so
hard to get.
If you have ever been to the Andaman Islands, ever intend
to go there, or just genuinely care about our planet - I ask you to please help
us complete this project. The turtles, GreenLife and I will thank you :)
We are looking to raise $9800 USD for this project.
Follow the project on Twitter at @AndamanRecycle
Here are some pictures of the latest batch of plastic rounded up on Havelock island and brought back to Port Blair. We're limited at the moment due to the amount of space the uncrushed bottles occupy. Having the machine we are fundraising for at the moment would increase the amount of plastic that we are able to transport back tremendously.