Fish that eats plastic: a project to prevent flooding in Mazatlán.

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The Osuna Miranda family created an ecological container project to be able to collect and recycle PET.

Mazatlán.- Every rainy season was the same, the street where Nancy Miranda Zepeda and Jesús Alfredo Osuna Lizárraga lived was flooded, because the storm sewers were clogged by garbage, mostly plastic bottles, which prevented the discharge of the water.

Last year, tired of the situation, since every time during the floodings an urban bus passed by, the water reached the door of their house, they decided to clean the grates to mitigate the accumulation of water on public roads.

“People are not aware of what recycling is, I have had to visit many states of the Mexican Republic where there is a culture of recycling, there are places that are clean, and you don’t see bottles lying on the street,” said Miranda Zepeda.

They knew that the problem did not end with just cleaning the sewer, because people always returned to throw garbage, so they undertook a collection project with the intention that citizens would have a place to take their plastic containers so that they would not end up in the streets.

“We decided to make something to collect the plastic instead of throwing it on the street, therefore people go, and leave it in the container, and the proper process for recycling is given,” Miranda added.

Per week they collect between 60 and 80 kilos of PET containers. Photo: Fausto McConegly | The Sun of Mazatlan

The project was prepared and presented to the Mazatlán Department of Ecology and Environment, where they were given the green light. This is how “Recycle me, recycle for the world to save” was born, which consisted of the installation of a giant container in the shape of a fish in a small square to deposit PET plastic.

This type of container became a trend in the country between 2018 and 2019, especially in beach tourist destinations.

“This was the first one we made, with this figure of this fish, we wanted to do it above all on the shore of the beach, to make it more striking, because the beach is one of the dirtiest places there is, where people go to take and throw the container into the sand”.

A year after this initiative, six containers have been installed in different parts of the city, collecting between 60 and 80 kilos of these containers per week.

The Department of Ecology and Environment of the Mazatlán City Council estimates that of the 650 tons of garbage produced daily in the city, approximately 11% is PET plastic.

PET plastic in Mazatlán is paid at 3 pesos per kilo.

Photo: Fausto McConegly | The Sun of Mazatlan

While at the national level, Mexico produces more than nine billion plastic bottles per year and ranks second in the world generating  PET waste. According to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, a person consumes an average of five plastic bottles per day.

All the PET collected is sold at recycling plants for 3 pesos per kilo. The collected money is used for operating expenses and maintenance of the containers.

Even though there is an increasing response from the public in terms of going to deposit their recyclable material there, there is also a population that misuses them, since they use them as garbage cans.

“The saddest thing is that even though it has a sign that says “plastic”, in all the parks people take their dogs for a walk, pick up their dog’s feces, tie the bag and throw it in the fish. People have thrown diapers, glasses of Styrofoam, plastic bags with food, clothes, everything,” he lamented.

The Osuna Miranda family is pleased to do their bit to care for and preserve the environment, a message that they also convey to their daughters Paola Fernanda and Nancy Ximena.

They have exhibited their project and given talks in different schools in the city, where they plant the seed of recycling in children.

“At first, people would come and leave the containers for taking a picture with the fish, yes it is satisfactory, because it was worth it, we are really starting something that we were hoping would work and it did work”.

Jesús Alfredo is the one who cleans the containers. Photo: Fausto McConegly | The Sun of Mazatlan

Support for other causes

Recycling not only offers benefits to the environment, but it is also a way of obtaining economic resources; out of the plastic bottles , also it is taken advantage of the caps, which have been donated to animal protection associations to carry out cat sterilization campaigns, and it is intended that soon they will be donated to foundations that support the fight against cancer.

In 2012, the Fray Antonio Alcalde Civil Hospital, in Jalisco, was a pioneer in the collection of plastic caps with the “Recycle against cancer” campaign, this to support low-income patients who suffered from the disease.

For half a year, PET bottles and caps were collected, and delivered to a benefactor who offered to pay for chemotherapy in exchange. From that moment on, citizens, associations, foundations, and companies seek, through recycling, resources to care for sick children and mistreated and/or abandoned animals.

Data

-3 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year.

-80 kilos of containers collected per week.

– A plastic bottle can take up to 500 years to degrade.

Source: El Sol de Mazatlan