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Skidmore College

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


Solid waste accumulation is a significant issue in Latin America where poor infrastructure and management systems are present and with the exponential tourism growth in this region, the abundance of solid waste is also growing. This increase affects environmental, economic, and social factors such as pollution, a decline in tourism, and an increase in negative health effects. This study on Isla Colón, in the Province of Bocas del Toro, in western Panamá sought results on the abundance of solid waste along roadsides and beaches in the most populous and touristic locations. Approximately 2,160 meters squared were studied in Playa Bluff, Bocas del Toro town, and Boca del Drago utilizing quadrants to collect visible solid waste accumulation. 743 items of solid waste were collected, of which 62% were of plastic origin. Of the most prevalent composition of plastic; wrappers, plastic bottles, and unidentifiable fragmented plastics were the most. The mean density of solid waste on the study sites was 25.125 grams per meter squared. Approximately 344 items of solid waste are projected to be found every kilometer of the study sites. Traceability of corporations who produced the items and their production location were difficult to find. A mean of 14% of collected items were identifiable on their location or corporation. A history of the solid waste management system on Isla Colón as well as a history of Cero Basura and their mitigation methods utilized were identified through available literature as well as a semi-structured interview with the leader of the organization. Further research should be conducted on the specifics of the solid waste management system in order to have successful management actions on Isla Colón.


Environmental Health | Latin American Studies | Other Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health | Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health


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