Bocas del Toro is Recycling! Bocas Recycle Center Outlook for 2024

2024 is set to be a year of significant expansion and community engagement for the Bocas Recycle Center. A visionary plan that includes raising awareness, environmental education, and waste management. The Bocas Recycle Center started its journey in December 2021 with a volunteer program. While the initial enthusiasm was encouraging, it soon became apparent that a more sustainable approach was needed. By August 2022, the center had shifted gears, focusing on education, management, and industrial programs to build a solid foundation for sustainability.

Their mission is to “turn the company into the best strategic ally of the Bocas del Toro archipelago in the handling and managing of solid waste systems and the reference and guide on circular economy, climate change mitigation, greenhouse gas inventory, and carbon footprint reduction.”

Bocas Recycle Center outside view

The Bocas Recycle Center welcomes a wide range of materials, including glass bottles and containers, cardboard, and five types of plastic: PET bottles, high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. In a significant expansion last month, the center added used cooking oil to its portfolio and has plans to include used motor oil soon.

This progress was further strengthened by excellent news from the Municipal Council, which granted an extension of the center’s concession. Originally set to expire in 2025, the concession now extends to an impressive 2035. This extension not only reaffirms our community’s commitment but also broadens the range of materials accepted, including glass, cardboard, aluminum cans, and Tetra Pak packaging.

Eduardo Nelson, manager of the Recycle Center reported that from August 2022 to December 2023, the center effectively managed an astounding 93,000 pounds of solid waste, which translates to over 42,000 kilograms in just 17 months. Notably, 71 percent of this waste is glass, while cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans and tetrapak make up the remaining 29 percent. In the current year, the center aims to triple these numbers.

Bocas Recycle Center

To triple its stated capacity, the center must undertake a significant expansion and adaptation effort. In this regard, Nelson mentioned that Tetrapak will be donating roofs made from recycled Tetra Pak packaging. This innovative roofing material offers a rust-resistant alternative to conventional zinc sheets, aligning perfectly with the center’s commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness.

The Bocas Recycle Center runs six programs, which include subscriptions, recycled glass products, and other recycled items, a volunteer program, environmental education, and recently, the Municipal Council’s approval of a sticker program for single-use glass and plastic bottles as a recycling cost will help sustain the center’s initiatives.

As of February 2024, the center will initiate an environmental awareness and plastic collection program using Ecological Bicycles. This “eco bicycle” program consists of an electric bicycle and a wagon, and it will be run as a volunteer program. Dedicated volunteers will go around town at specific times, which will be announced in advance, allowing the community to prepare and deposit their plastics when the eco bicycle passes by. This exciting initiative is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Ferry Bocas and Bocas Divers Paradise.

Bocas Recycle Center

Additionally, the Recycle Center will acquire its very own truck, which will significantly enhance the efficiency of waste collection. This truck will benefit the solid waste subscription program, ensuring that businesses and other establishments that produce solid waste can comply with mandatory separation laws.

The recycling center is looking to increase the sales of its signature product: pavers crafted from recycled glass material. In addition, the crushed glass product can also be used to make concrete mixes and find applications in other areas of construction.

Wally Wild made great use of the eco-pavers at his Stay Wild accomodations

Beyond its expansion goals, the center is committed to sustainability, fostering a more significant community impact, increasing institutional corporate allies, and establishing itself as a leading authority in comprehensive solid waste management within the district, and potentially, across the entire province.

The Unidos Por Bocas Recycle Center has four crucial strategic allies: Transporte y Servicios Toby, responsible for plastic removal from the island, and Ferry Bocas, ensuring rapid transportation of these materials. In addition, they have welcomed “Biocar” as a new partner, and Tetrapak has been actively supporting promotional and educational initiatives along with various projects. Gratitude is extended to institutional allies, including the Municipality of Bocas del Toro, the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Health. Special recognition goes to sponsors, including Ferry Bocas, Divers Paradise, and the Red Frog Foundation, whose invaluable support has contributed significantly to the center’s sustainability efforts on the island.

David “Kiwi” Gillingham processing glass on the shredding machine.

Bocas Recycle Center

We encourage both residents and businesses in Isla Colón to become active participants in the sustainability journey. Whether you can bring your waste to the center or subscribe to one of their programs, your contribution matters. Contact Bocas Recycle Center manager Eduard Nelson to sign your business or residence up for their subscription pick-up service +507 6687-8349 or

The Bocas Recycle Center is located in las Cabañas, on Isla Colón, next to the Chikita Beach restaurant (on Google Maps), and is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm.

Follow the activities of Bocas Recycle Center on social media: Bocas Recycle Center on Facebook and @bocasrecycle on Instagram.

Bocas Recycle Center Divers Paradise

Part of the Unidos por Bocas / Bocas Recycle Center team (left to right) Eduardo Nelson, Elena Caron (of Divers Paradise), Laura Fuson Kays and Dave “Kiwi” Gillingham

Check the full presentation on our YouTube channel

Breeze Card is the membership club of The Bocas Breeze and the 2024 edition is dedicated to the theme of recycling and waste management. As part of the recycling theme, 5% of all sales will be donated to Bocas Recycle Center.

Click here for the current list of Breeze Card deals and all the reasons you should join the “wooden card club” and become one of the biggest supporters of Bocas del Toro’s community newspaper.

Breeze Card 2024 - website featured image

Ferry Bocas

The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

One Comment

  1. Elizabeth Savino Reply

    You are doing a wonderful job! We live in the beaches area (Coronado) and our Rotary club is trying to do the same thing here. Blessings.

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