The Vatican’s new policy on garbage – an example to follow

Wednesday, 25 November 2009, 18:59
At a time when many cities of the world have considerable problems with domestic waste, the Vatican state, already for the second year, is successfully carrying out a program of separating and recycling garbage. From year to year millions of tourists and pilgrims visit the Vatican. Here they are enriched with feelings, spiritually renewed, receive benediction from the Holy Father... and abandon mountains of garbage, measuring over 400 tons per year.
At a time when many cities of the world have considerable problems with domestic waste, the Vatican state, already for the second year, is successfully carrying out a program of separating and recycling garbage. From year to year millions of tourists and pilgrims visit the Vatican. Here they are enriched with feelings, spiritually renewed, receive benediction from the Holy Father... and abandon mountains of garbage, measuring over 400 tons per year. The special factor in the process of garbage collection in the Vatican is paper waste, which accumulates from the numerous offices of different structural subdivisions. The new policy in regards to garbage is possible to evaluate as another component of the “green course” of the Vatican under the management of the Pope Benedict XVI. In numerous appeals, speeches, and sermons, the Holy Father regularly pays attention to the critical condition of the planet, to the issues of co-responsibility of everyone in dealing with the ecological problems of our day, and also teaches that the responsible attitude toward the natural environment is an integral part of the Christian faith. In the last encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (Love in Truth) the Pope underlines: “The Church is responsible for the creation and has to exemplify this responsibility before the public (51).”  The testimony of faith in God the Creator and in the realization of the responsibility for his creation – nature, takes on a systematic character in the Vatican and becomes a standard for the whole Church. Accordingly, last autumn a solar power station was opened in an area the size of a soccer field, which in the future will provide a fifth of the electricity that is consumed in the papal state. If here still recently, like in many other places, separating garbage for collection was perceived as something superfluous, which only brings certain inconveniences, and not “for the Church,” then Pope Benedict XVI set a clear order: paper to paper, plastic to plastic... Thus, around the Basilica of Saint Peter, 30 containers are lined up for paper, 25 for glass, 18 for plastic, and 15 for aluminium cans. The new practice of handling the garbage brings “along with ecological, also economic dividends,” declared Ennio Cortellessa in “Oservatore Romano,” who is in charge of garbage collection the Vatican state. In particular, it touches the separate collection of paper. For utilization of the waste, contracts were signed with five special companies, each of which will take on a specific role. Separate utilization is needed, for example, for medication from the Vatican’s pharmacy that has expired, or energy-efficient bulbs that have burned out. Regularly, entire containers of such items are also gathered, for example, knives, scissors, and spray bulbs, by the security service, which participates in weekly general audiences with the Holy Father.  In the opinion of the authority of the Vatican, setting up containers for separate collection of garbage is only the first step. The next step has to be elucidative work among pilgrims and tourists, which must lead them to behave more responsibly toward the environment, and throw garbage only in the clearly marked places: paper to paper, plastic to plastic ...

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