The Adopt-A-Bin Program is plagued by overflows stemming mainly from people throwing their household garbage in the bins, according to Mariana Islands Nature Alliance executive director Sam Sablan.
In an interview with the Saipan Tribune, Sablan said that 80,000 lbs of trash were collected from MINA’s Adopt-A-Bin Program last year, up from 60,000 lbs in the first nine months of the program in 2010.
Sablan said the Adopt-A-Bin Program worked in its first few months because of a more visible and aggressive education campaign. However, after funds for the education campaign dried up, Sablan said a lot of people in the community forgot what the Adopt-A-Bin Program was for and some have resorted to throwing their household garbage in the bins.
Also a factor in a lot of people using the bins as their personal dumpsite is the high cost of private garbage collectors and the government having no garbage collection system.
MINA itself pays Ericco Enterprises $80 a month to collect garbage once a week from the 17 Adopt-A-Bin sites scattered all over the island.
Another problem besetting the program, Sablan said, is that people do not follow recycling and segregation practices when they throw garbage in the recycling bin.
MINA’s Adopt-A-Bin Program has two types of bins: one for mixed waste and one for recyclables—paper, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans.
Sablan said that only 30-35 percent of trash collected from the bins are actually segregated, down from 40 percent when the Adopt-A-Bin Program started in 2010.
Again, she said the problem could only be remedied by educating the public more about the value of segregating trash and recycling in general.
When MINA launched its Adopt-A-Bin Program in 2010, its main goal was to prevent 800 metric tons of trash from being littered by placing recycling and mixed solid waste bins in strategic areas.
MINA believed that establishing an island culture of recycling will promote proper waste separation and disposal, reducing the amount of land-based sources of marine debris by 70 percent.
From the original seven bins funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Grant, the Adopt-A-Bin Program now has 17 bins all over the island sponsored by businesses like Asia Pacific Hotel, Inc. (Mt. Tapochao), Brabu Pharmacy (13 Fishermen’s Monument and 3rd pavilion), CTSI (Susupe Park), Docomo Pacific (13 Fishermen’s Monument and 3rd pavilion), Ericco Enterprises (Laolao Beach site), IT&E (Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium), Shell Marianas (Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium), Marianas Trekking and Visitors Channel (Wing Beach), Marianas Visitors Authority and Northern Marianas Diving Operators Association (Laolao Dive site), Rotary Club of Saipan (Garapan Fishing Base), Tan Holdings (2nd pavilion and 13 Fishermen), MINA (Obyan Beach), and Coastal Resources Management (Paupau Beach, Sugar Dock, and San Isidro Beach).