In the frame of International Earth Day this past April 22, the Binational Commission of the Sixaola River Basin organized an exchange visit between the municipalities of Bocas de Toro, in Panama, and Talamanca, Costa Rica, on management of solid waste and treatment of recyclable waste.
The delegation from Bocas del Toro was headed by the mayor, Martín Downer, with the participation of two Panamanian media outlets. The visit opened with a message from Melvin Cordero, mayor of Talamanca, who underscored the ties of friendship uniting the two regions and the binational work taking place around the Sixaola River Basin.
A session was also held about the challenges and benefits of the Talamanca municipal solid waste management plan, the “Talamanca Recycling for Life” program, and Costa Rica’s Comprehensive Waste Management Law 8839, followed by a trip to the Municipal Center for Recovery of Valuable Waste and the County Composting Facility.
In Talamanca the municipality collects non-recyclable materials twice a week, while the Talamanca Caribbean Biological Corridor (a local environmental organization) is in charge of collecting recyclable solid waste.
Alongside there are monthly recycling campaigns, sorting bins are placed, and workshops and activities are organized to raise the population’s awareness about the importance of adequate solid waste management.
The program’s lack of profitability is the main challenge, due to its high operating cost and the low prices of the waste to be recycled. The disinterested collaboration of the different sectors has thus been crucial for the sustainability of the program.
Wrapping up the visit, the group paid a visit to the Talamanca Municipal Council, where the binationality and good transboundary relations were reiterated, along with the interest in maintaining these with Talamanca mayor-elect Marvin Gómez (2016-2020). Bocas del Toro Mayor Downer said the visit had been very useful for analyzing how his municipality can improve treatment of solid waste, and recognized the importance of having a civil society organization working with the municipality in order to be a sustainable initiative.
The exchange trip was financed by project BRIDGE: Building River Dialogue and Governance, with resources from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.