With almost 95% of its territory covered by tropical green forest, Suriname is considered as one of the greenest countries in the world. But this title comes with the responsibility to care for the environment. The sustainable management of resources and waste is fundamental to protect and preserve the forests and landscapes of Suriname. However, waste management in the country is inadequate and needs improvement. We felt this in a very real way during a cleanup event by a popular trail near the local zoo.
There is a lack of information about the amount of waste generated and collected in Suriname. Based on research done by the University of Suriname, it is estimated that in Paramaribo and Wanica (the two most populated districts in Suriname), each person generates an average of 0.5 kg of waste every day, of which more than 10% consists of plastic material. Most of the collected waste of Suriname is dumped in the open landfill of Ornamibo, which is located only about 15 kilometers from the city center. The proximity to the city center creates numerous very serious environmental and health problems, including degradation of the natural vegetation, pollution of water resources, and air pollution.
There are several initiatives led by private entrepreneurs to recycle some of the waste. Since 2015 Suresur has been collecting used plastic in 141 publicly accessible bins located throughout the country. AmReCo and Clear Packaging & Recycling N.V. are recycling some waste at their facilities. However, the country is lacking a well-structured transversal strategy for waste recycling.
Although the collection of household waste is functioning relatively well in Paramaribo, too much ends up on the street, in small illegal dumpsites in the city, in drainage channels, rivers and the sea. Waste is also burned by citizens in their backyards. This not only creates visual and environmental impacts, but clogs up drainage channels, which in turn leads to flooding during heavy rain and the consequent economic impacts. Awareness among the population about these impacts is fundamental to improve the waste management sector.
On Saturday, December 5th, 2020, the IDB organized an event to contribute to the awareness and reduction of the waste dumped in the streets of Paramaribo. Some of the colleagues working in the Country Office of Suriname met in a “green” area next to the Paramaribo’s Zoo. This is a popular spot for exercising and recreation. It’s also a good location to see some wildlife, like monkeys and sloths. The purpose of the IDB event was to clean the area while getting some exercise by running. We named it RUN OUT of WASTE in Suriname.
We collaborated with Zero Waste Suriname, a non-profit organization that provided equipment and helped with the cleaning. We separated the collected waste into plastic bottles, cans and disposal waste. The plastic bottles and cans were taken by Zero Waste Suriname to the facilities of AmReCo for recycling.
Collecting garbage along a distance of 500 meters we filled more than 30 bags. We didn’t have enough to collect all of the waste on the trail.
We had a bitter-sweet feeling, as we met our goal to clean most of the area, but we also realized the magnitude of the problem. Suriname has many beautiful and amazing places, but too often spoiled and polluted with waste. Unfortunately, this is a reality of many countries in the region. We contributed with a small initiative, but we need everybody to do their part in proper waste disposal. This will save the forest.
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