Plastic waste and pollution is a challenging issue on Curacao. The island has more plastic waste than can currently be managed and an overburdened landfill site is expected to reach capacity by 2025. So the TUI Care Foundation, l social enterprise Green Phenix and Mambo Beach have joined forces in a new initiative to create a cleaner Curacao. By installing recycling stations along Mambo Boulevard, waste is collected and brought to a recycling facility where the plastic waste is turned to attractive new products. The facility employs people from vulnerable communities who guide tourists and create awareness of the global challenge of plastic pollution.
High volumes of waste are created every day at the popular tourist hotspot of Mambo Beach on Curacao. Previously, waste was unsorted and all ended up at the island’s landfill. Now, thanks to the new initiative, plastic bottles and aluminum cans are collected separately at six recycling stations placed along Mambo Boulevard. The waste is then recycled and upcycled to new products in a local facility by Green Phenix. The social enterprise not only collects waste from the Mambo Boulevard recycling stations, but it also sorts through the general waste bins to separate out items which can be recycled, especially after beach parties. This highlights the ongoing need to continue raising awareness about waste separation.
Visitors looking for a unique, sustainable experience can visit the facility and take an educational tour through the colourful journey of the plastic recycling process. A tour guide walks them through the process of sorting plastic by type and colour, shredding it into flakes and finally creating new, well-designed products that also make great holiday souvenirs. The educational tour also raises awareness of waste reduction and provides information and practical tips on how to create a more sustainable island.
Alexander Panczuk, Executive Director of the TUI Care Foundation: “Raising awareness of sustainable tourism to help local communities thrive is as the core of the ITUI Care Foundation’s work.. This initiative aims to tackle the challenge of plastic pollution on Curacao and raises awareness among visitors and locals of how they can help to keep the island and its beaches clean. It also creates new employment opportunities for people from vulnerable communities which makes it a good example of how tourism can bring positive change to a holiday destination.”
The project is part of TUI Care Foundation’s new Destination Zero Plastic programme, which aims to tackle the global plastic crisis by inspiring local communities and tourists to take action against plastic pollution, particularly in island destinations. It also cultivates the mindset that plastic can be re-used as a resource and supports innovative and community-driven solutions to collect, process and upcycle plastic into saleable products. The programme aims to create green jobs and accessible income opportunities for local people and to create eco-tourism experiences, including tours, to upcycling workspaces.