Orika, Isla Grande

February 2017

Conservation benefit: Air and water pollution reduction

Community benefit: Trash processing, recycling, and composting facility

The Rosario Islands lie off the central coast of Colombia, about 30 miles from Cartagena. The archipelago’s 31 islands and keys contain natural lagoons, mangroves, dry forests, and sandy beaches. The Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park, established in 1977, covers approximately 300,000 acres of marine protected area. Tourists come to the islands, many on day trips, to snorkel, dive, or swim.

The reefs around these islands, however, have been damaged by solid waste that washes or is dumped into the ocean. Garbage also pollutes beaches and mangrove forests, threatening sea life, human health, and the tourism industry.

This project—Seacology’s first in Colombia—will fund a modern trash-sorting, recycling, and composting facility on Isla Grande, the largest of the Rosario Islands. It will help the community of Orika turn waste from an environmental burden into a revenue source.

A local cooperative organization, Isla Limpia (Clean Island) will operate the facility, with support from the IslaUnika Foundation, an organization that has been working with the community for several years. The National Learning Service will provide training on how to run the venture efficiently and help with monitoring. Recyclables will be sold to an off-island company, making the facility self-supporting. When trash becomes profitable, there will be an economic incentive for picking it up—and, as a result, a cleaner island.

Project Updates
May 2019
The composting program, the final part of the project, is now in operation. It was designed in collaboration with a local university, to avoid changing the pH of the island’s soil. To promote...
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December 2018
The waste processing facility is up and running, operated by local people who were trained last fall. Our project partner, Fundación Islaunika, has found three main buyers for different products,...
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May 2018
The waste processing facility has been built; all that remains to be done is to put in wiring (connected to solar panels) and install the doors. Those tasks should be finished soon, and then the...
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January 2018
The waste processing facility, designed after our nonprofit partner, Fundación Islaunika, conducted a study of the amount and kinds of waste produced on the island, is under construction....
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May 2017
Field representative Ximena Escovar-Fadul reports that community members and our nonprofit partners are working on a plan for purchasing construction materials and equipment, in consultation with...
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