Feb. 18, 2004 – Bags filled with aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass along with bundles of newspapers, stacks of office paper and piles of cardboard streamed into H&V Recycling's spot under the trees near the Cruz Bay tennis courts on Wednesday.
By the time the H&V personnel arrived around 8:30 a.m., a half hour past the scheduled 8 a.m. start time, about half a dozen cars and trucks filled with recyclables were lined up and waiting, and recycling on St. John was back in business.
"I've been saving since it stopped," Cornelius Matthias said, eyeing his son's pickup truck filled to overflowing with bags of aluminum cans.
Matthias was referring to the year-plus hiatus in recycling that came about because when the St. Thomas/St. John Anti-litter and Beautification Commission's funding to operate the program ran out. In order to reapply for funds, the commission was forced to put a new contract out for bid.
Matthias said he'd been saving cardboard, too, but finally threw it away because it was drawing roaches.
More than a month ago, Ira Wade, deputy Public Works commissioner for St. John, said that bags filled with bottles and cans had begun appearing in public trash bins as residents grew tired of storing their recyclables while waiting for the program to start up again.
A man who did not want to be identified said early Wednesday morning that he had thousands of plastic bottles to be recycled, but since H&V was not yet on the scene, he couldn't wait around.
Emily Burton was on her way to work at the Friends of the V.I. National Park office, so she didn't want to wait in line to drop off two cardboard boxes of bottles, either. "I saved them since I knew it was going to start," she said.
She gave her bottles to Matthias, saying that recycling is the right thing to do even if you don't get paid. "This should be a way of life," she said, gesturing toward the huge piles of bags already accumulated under the trees.
Without recycling, Burton said, the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas will continue to grow.
Cordell Jacobs, executive director of the Anti-litter and Beautification Commission, said later Wednesday that while H&V's weekly report will provide the formal figures, it appeared as of Day 1 that the return to recycling on St. John will be successful. "They've taken in a lot," he said.
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