Gov’t reaffirms commitment to proper waste management practices

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GOVERNMENT Senator Matthew Samuda has reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to pursuing initiatives that will encourage proper waste management practices.

Among these, he said, is the Plastic Bottle Refund Deposit Scheme, which is slated to come on stream early in the 2019/20 fiscal year. It is intended to reduce littering and encourage recycling.

“It is about 15 per cent of our waste that is plastic and bottle, so one of the things that will come on stream this year is that we will monetise the value of plastic… and you will be able to get back that value when you bring a bottle in,” Samuda said.

“We expect, in five years, to target 85-90 per cent of the plastic bottles that are being produced and consumed each year. We’ve seen it work in Rwanda and Norway very well, so we are putting in place what’s necessary,” he added.

The deposit refund scheme will allow for the application of a deposit on plastic bottles placed on the market and a cash rebate to the consumer on the return of these to designated redemption centres islandwide.

This scheme will be implemented by a reconstituted Recycling Partners Jamaica Limited. Participating private-sector stakeholders have instituted a self-imposed cess of $1 per bottle, to start, which will see an initial private-sector investment of $850 million in the first year.

Senator Samuda was speaking during a panel discussion at this year’s staging of the Youth Climate Action Expo, hosted by the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council (JCCYC) at Campion College, recently.

The expo was held under the theme ‘Staying above the Tide: Jamaica After the Plastic Ban’. The panel discussion focused on topics such as solid waste management, climate change and renewable energy.

Senator Samuda also said that in the next fiscal year, some 100 new garbage trucks will be added to the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) fleet.

He also noted that several initiatives are being undertaken to increase the use of renewable energy.

“There are a couple of things that are already taking place. There is a project for 50 schools to receive solar energy to reduce both their carbon footprint and energy costs. That is being coordinated by the National Education Trust and the Development Bank of Jamaica,” Senator Samuda said.

“There is the listing of Wigton [Wind Farm] on the Stock Exchange to raise additional capital that will allow for greater expansion on that facility and our wind energy production will go up significantly. Another project, which I think is nearing completion, is the Eight Rivers [Energy Company] solar plant in Westmoreland,” he added.

JCCYC director and founder, Eleanor Terrelonge, stressed the need for Jamaicans to develop a culture of separating their garbage.

“We can separate our garbage, recycle what we can recycle and then an option for organic waste is composting. A lot of persons are moving [in this direction], and composting has its own benefits because it can be reused as fertiliser,” she stated.

The parent body of the JCCYC, the Jamaica Climate Change Advisory Board (JCCAB), in its community engagement activities, works with the NSWMA and other organisations to further heighten waste management sensitisation and awareness.

“The JCCYC worked with the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) Project and community groups in Portland for a few weeks on a solid waste sensitisation campaign,” communication coordinator at the JCCAB, Dainalyn Swaby, said.

“… We had implemented some garbage enclosures and skips in the community. The community groups invited the NSWMA and they had a session on the types of waste and how to sort it,” she said.

Meanwhile, chief executive officer, Environmental Solutions Limited, Eleanor Jones, pointed to the need to mitigate sea-level rise.

“We have our airports and ports, our power plants and so on in coastal areas. We are going to have to look at moving back from the shore zone, and for some of the infrastructure, retrofitting to elevate where we can,” she stated.

“Also, with sea-level rise, we have to think about our coastal aquifers, because as the levels rise, that saline water moves in, and we already have contamination of our coastal aquifers. So it’s a real issue for us,” she added.

Jamaica’s middle-income economy classification from the United Nations excludes the country from funding allocated by G7 and G20 countries, to undertake certain infrastructural projects.

“The truth is, we know the projects that need to be done, and we are doing the ones that we can afford to do as we can afford to do them. But we won’t be able to make those necessary moves until that financing arrangement changes,” Senator Samuda explained.

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