The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti in January, killing 200,000 people, has left the survivors with a less serious headache, but one that the plastics industry might be able to solve: how to get rid of thousands, if not millions, of used PET bottles that once contained donated drinking water. "The country has been destroyed and, with so many people needing aid, nobody has thought about what to do with the waste, including the PET containers," Carline Seide-Murphy, president of the Haitian Community Development Project, told Stephen Downer, Plastics News' correspondent in Mexico City, in a recent telephone interview. HCDP is a New York-based, prize-winning environmental protection organization, comprising principally Haitian expatriates. Seide-Murphy contacted Plastics News to ask for help in finding a PET recycler willing to collect and process the PET waste. The Caribbean island's population, she said, has been left with "an overwhelming amount of plastics to throw away and no one seems to know what the do with them [the PET bottles]." HCDP normally works with a Haitian recycler, but Seide-Murphy said she has not heard whether the local recycler is in a position to continue with the type of service it was giving before the quake. "I'm waiting for a response on their status... [but] I haven't heard anything yet," she said in an email. Downer gave Seide-Murphy the name of one PET recycler, with operations in the U.S. and Mexico, and volunteered to pass on any other information. In 2008 HCDP was awarded the Energy Globe World Award for its efforts to clean up the environment in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. Haiti's population before the earthquake was 9.7 million, according to the World Bank.
Haiti seeks help recycling PET
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