Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Aug. 5) - Starting next year, the government of Guam will initiate two programs that will advance recycling efforts on our island -- a municipal recycling program and a disposal fee for appliances and automobiles - but to make them successful, we must begin working to promote a recycling mentality.

This is especially the case with the municipal recycling program. The law will provide drop-off recycling bins at each mayor's office, with the items collected being sold to recycling companies. Village municipal planning councils would receive the money.

This program requires awareness and participation if it's going to work. Residents need to know not only that they can drop off recyclable materials, but why it's important to do so. They must have a clear understanding of the benefits so they will more willingly participate.

Recycling maximizes the use of materials. For example, there isn't an inexhaustible supply of aluminum, so making new cans out of old cans extends the amount of aluminum available.

And recycling and reusing also cuts down on the amount of trash going into our landfill on a daily basis. This is of particular importance once the new landfill is opened. The less trash that comes in daily, the longer the "life" of the landfill, which means that it will take longer before another new landfill is necessary.

Disseminating this information and awareness so that it takes hold is no easy task, but it must be done. We have to get rid of the mentality that everything is disposable, and replace it with the mind-set that just about everything can be recycled or reused.

The Recycling Association of Guam has done some work toward promoting this mind-set, as have various individuals in the community. But the message must become stronger, and be adopted by stakeholders in the community -- the executive and legislative branches, government officials and agencies, mayors' offices and municipal councils, even churches, nonprofit groups and community organizations.

August 5, 2004

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