Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment Councillor Kwesi Des Vignes,left, pulls the lever to operate a plastic compactor. Looking on is Secretary of the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracey Davidson-Celestine, second from left, at the launch of the Tobago Recycling Resource Initiative at TCOSWAF compound, Shaw Park, Tobago, yesterday.

More than one million bottles are picked up on Tobago’s roadway annually. They would form part of the material used at the island’s first recycling plant, says Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries, and the Environment(DIQE) Kwesi Des Vignes on Thursday.

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) official was speaking at the commissioning ceremony at the recycling plant on the island at Shaw Park.

“ I saw a report (on the) bottles collected from the roads monthly and it will be alarming for people to know that in this little Tobago, from the roadside, we can collect a million plastic bottles on an annual basis.”

He said the recycling resource initiative, which includes the plant, is a project by DIQE, the Division of Health, Wellness, and Family Development(DHWFD), and Recycling Waste and Logistics Ltd.

Des Vignes said the initiative is part of the THA’s plan to preserve the environment.

He listed the THA’s measures already done to preserve the environment. He said they included passing a motion at the Plenary Sitting in March 2017 to end the use of single-use styrofoam, testing air on the island, and hosting a conference with environmentally conscious stakeholders last year.

Des Vignes said the world is taking notice of the steps as evidenced by the northeastern end of the island’s designation as a Man and Biosphere site.

He said what is needed is for residents to show they appreciated the environment.

Also bringing remarks at the function, Health Secretary Davidson- Celestine said commissioning the plant is a turning point and a chance to restart during the pandemic.

She said the public must be part of the recycling initiative and be aware of the need to recycle.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as we go through communities and even through beach clean-ups we are still seeing lots of waste not disposed of in the right manner… What we need is a change of attitude, a change in mindset.”

She said the DHWFD is responsible for transporting the waste material to the plant and will mount an awareness campaign to encourage residents to get involved.

Infrastructure division officials said, for now, the recycled material will be turned into flakes and granules and exported to Central and South America. They also said in addition to plastic bottles, the materials recycled will include cans and caps.