Sint Maarten is a bustling economic hub in the Caribbean. Thus far, most of the islands’ economy has been reliant on tourism and importation. However, there are many other unexplored business opportunities here, one of these is waste!
On the 6th of September 2017 Hurricane Irma raged over the island creating an enormous amount of extra waste. Not only the landfills grew in a fast pace, also the neighborhoods and the natural environment were flooded with rubbish. This has a significant detrimental impact on the environment, the community and public health.
In order to support the reconstruction process, the Waste2Work project was initiated in 2018. The aim of Waste2Work is to make communities look at waste differently, to not only reduce the amount of reusable materials ending up in landfills, but also to create new profitable opportunities in turn. To execute this project, we partnered up with the Netherlands Red Cross, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Innofest, Start-up Delta, the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation and the Ministry of Defense.
The Waste2Work Upcycle Center was set-up to collect reusable materials to make new furniture and home décor out of them, therefore prolonging the life cycle of these materials. In addition to selling these locally hand made products, the center also offers young unemployed adults a 4 month training program. During this training they go through the full process from collecting waste to turning it into beautiful new products. They learn new job and life skills to increase their job opportunities and can even become trainers themselves.
Waste2Work also organizes various activities to raise awareness among communities about sustainability. Their Upcycling Workshop is for example great for schools and teambuilding events. Tourist families can enjoy the Souvenir Workshop as a fun activity in which they create their own unique souvenir.
By creating these new exciting employment opportunities and stimulating a more diverse and circular economy, Waste2Work contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the Caribbean and to building a more resilient community on Sint Maarten.