Environment

Multimillion-dollar

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

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Government is today expected to launch a US$700,000-programme to strengthen the legislative framework for reducing plastic and styrofoam pollution of the natural environment.

At today's exchange rate, US$700,000 is about $91 million.

The four-year national sustainable consumption and production programme, to be implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), is being undertaken with funding from the Government of Japan, in partnership with UN Environment. The launch event is planned for Knutsford Court Hotel, starting at 6:00 pm.

“This will address, inter alia, the illegal dumping of garbage, particularly plastics, into the country's waterways in our urban centres,” said minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz.

The minister's remarks were delivered on his behalf by Chief Technical Director Lieutenant Colonel Oral Khan at the opening ceremony of a three-day Caribbean Waste Management Conference at Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.

Vaz noted that people who irresponsibly dump garbage in gullies and waterways need to be aware that their actions can cause flooding, vectors and other health hazards.

“Eventually, this waste makes its way to the sea through run-off, which creates problems for our shorelines and the health of our marine life,” he pointed out.

He reported that a working group on plastic packaging has been established to stem the flow of single-use plastic bags and styrofoam into the environment. The working group, he said, will submit its recommendations to Cabinet before the end of the second quarter of the 2018/19 financial year.

Turning to the growing problem of e-waste, Vaz said it is important that the necessary measures be instituted to facilitate the collection, reuse, recycling and refurbishment of this in an environmentally sound manner.

“The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, are preparing drafting instructions for 'take back' legislation under the NSWMA Act, relating to electrical and electronic e-waste,” the minister said.

He noted that development of the regulations is a follow-up to the e-waste pilot programme undertaken by the NSWMA under the Quick Start Programme Trust Fund.

Vaz noted that the sustainable management of e-waste “can combat poverty, and generate green jobs through recycling, collection and processing initiatives, while safeguarding the environment as well as human health from hazards”.

He added, too, that the Hazardous Waste Management Policy and Strategy is to be sent to Cabinet for approval as a Green Paper before the end of the second quarter of 2017/2018, and will, thereafter, be subject to public consultations.

The three-day Caribbean Waste Management Conference is expected to develop a strategy document that will inform government and public-sector partnerships in solving the issue of waste management in Caribbean countries.

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