Green Tech expands, turning trash into fertilizer
Abigail O’Neal high fives a resident at the launch of a major recycling project in Road Town on Wednesday. Looking on is Lynette Harrigan of the BVI Tourist Board.
If all goes as planned, the British Virgin Islands could become a model for transforming waste into resource for food security as early as 2019.
“We can be an example to the world. I really think we can,” said Abigail O’Neal, Managing Director of Green Technology (Green Tech) BVI.
O’Neal, along with Canadian partners Ryerson University and Trent University as well as GreenScience – a company that is said to have created the world’s most sustainable, eco-friendly waste management methodology – will be undertaking the major project.
The team of organisations will transform waste into resource by using techology known as vermiculture machines, otherwise called worm bins.
Trent University is currently carrying out tests on the various crops that can be grown in the territory, while GreenScience will provide the vermiculture machine.
Simultaneously, Ryerson University will develop an app where the acidity levels of compost soil can be tested in order to create a better product with the aforementioned machine.
A warehouse is to be erected in the territory to house the waste-to-resource processes. However, Green Tech is finalizing a possible location with government. The site is reportedly spread over two acres.
“Obviously it is going to take a few months to set up. But, our facility and everything else also has to be set up for … the actual process to take place. But we are working on mechanisms with the right people in the public and private sector to get that done. So, we could really pilot this programme in a way that it could be just a matter of scaling up,” she said.
How the waste-to-resource process works
O’Neal said there will be special bins placed in the communities for recyclable waste that will be collected in partnership with the Department of Waste Management.
The waste materials – which range from paper, cardboard, and sargassum – will be placed into the machines and processed into fertilizer with nutrient-rich soil to grow crops.
“Our end goal is to have a cooperative with the farmers where they are producing what they need using greenhouse technology to basically stabilize food security in the BVI,” she explained.
“I want to make a difference in terms of closing a loop and creating a cycle by using waste as a resource, and seeing the benefits every few months when the crops come to mature.”
She said, so far, talks with the farmers and other entities in the private sector have been positive.
O’Neal said the venture will lead to job creation in the territory.
She also hopes more persons will consider going into the agriculture sector.
“We are not looking to put anybody out of business, we are looking to create jobs,” she said.
About Green Tech
Green Tech, which has been operating for several years, sells recyclable plates, cups, and the like as an alternative to plastic and styrofoam.
“I find in the BVI people will do ‘the right thing by the environment’ or make the choice if they know the choices are available. So that’s what we offered to do and we offered services for clients wholesale and retail food and beverage one use containers,” she said.
The daughter of the former Chief Minister Ralph O’Neal said despite getting hit by the 2017 hurricanes, the company has now grown.
The business currently operates from the Ralph O’Neal building in Road Town.