Submitted by: Micronesia Eco Corp.
Implemented country: Micronesia, Federated States of
Title: Creating the New from the Old: Recycling Benefits Man and Nature
Maria Grazia Fanelli Stephens, her husband and her three-year-old son live on the island of Kosrae. Maria is an environmental economist who wrote her doctoral dissertation on sustainable development and the creation of new jobs. Today she is project manager at Micronesia Eco Corp. and co-owner of Micronesia Grand Tour – an agency that promotes eco-tourism. Sustainable development is a must for Maria. Recycling is an important step on the way there. Her project is proof of the fact that personal convictions can achieve very, very much, and that people and the environment can benefit on an equal share. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today“ is her motto and it has proven successful.
Micronesia Eco Corp. Collects aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles as well as lead acid batteries in Kosrae. With the exception of the glass bottles, all raw materials are sold to foreign companies where they are recycled. The biggest challenge was finding suitable customers, which eventually did happen. The waste glass, however, stays in Kosrae where it is crushed and used as an aggregate for cement and other construction materials. The glass crusher is run by solar power. In Kosrae, even young elementary school children are taught the importance of recycling. The schools offer 2-day workshops and collect donations from glass recycling. Micronesia Eco Corp buys everything the schoolchildren collect during the year and that money is then used to fund even more school projects.
Recycling in Kosrae has turned into a small but sophisticated economic factor. Participating families are provided with additional income, school budgets get more support, children turn into messengers on behalf of the environment and take their entire newly acquired knowledge home to their families. The island is freed of thousands of cubic meters of waste, the mangrove forests are thriving again and the ocean is no longer polluted with plastic and lead acid batteries. The beaches are not being depleted anymore because now crushed glass is used for construction.
“Our children have the right to see the world in its beautiful natural colors and with all its wonderful creatures!”
Maria Grazia Fanelli Stephens