Plastics... big, BIG PROBLEM!

JET study shows scale of the dilemma

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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A record 160,628 pounds of garbage, including nearly 300,000 plastic beverage bottles, was collected from beaches across the island on International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day last September, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) reported yesterday.

The volume of waste was included in one of two reports released by JET, the other showing that Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica (NDUJ) Cleanup Network activities in 2017 resulted in 5,431 pounds of garbage, including 15,517 plastic bottles, being collected.

“It came as no surprise that plastic bottles were the number one item collected during these clean-up efforts,” a JET news release quoted the organisations's CEO Suzanne Stanley. “This is a long-standing trend we have seen over the many years JET has coordinated clean-ups in Jamaica. Many Jamaicans believe carelessly discarding their one plastic bottle cannot be a problem. They do not appreciate that every single piece of garbage thrown carelessly in the street or a gully contributes to the ever-increasing scope and scale of Jamaica's solid waste management issues.”

International Coastal Clean-up Day Jamaica 2017 marked JET's 10th anniversary as national coordinators and saw 9,675 volunteers from across the island cleaning up approximately 104 miles of coastline.

“The Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica Cleanup Network was launched in March 2017. Under that programme, 14 groups, including community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, service clubs and academic institutions, coordinated over 650 volunteers to stage Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica-themed community clean-ups across Jamaica between April and December 2017,” JET explained.

The release reported that both ICC Jamaica and NDUJ Cleanup Network activities in 2017 were funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), and reported TEF Executive Director Dr Carey Wallace as saying that the agency was pleased to have supported the “hugely successful clean-up programmes”.

“The collaboration and focus of thousands of well-thinking Jamaicans to lend their time, energy and financial resources towards cleaning up our beaches and communities auger well for the future of this blessed island,” Wallace was quoted as saying.

The JET added that ICC Jamaica 2017 also received support from the Yello Media Group, Recycling Partners of Jamaica, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Jamaica Biscuit Company, while the NDUJ Cleanup Network, which is one component of the Clean Coasts Project, also receives funding from the Wisynco Group.

“Over the years Jamaica's garbage has been transformed by increased use of plastic and other forms of non-biodegradable materials in packaging,” said Stanley. “As such, we have the responsibility as Jamaicans to transform the way we manage our garbage by reducing the amount of waste we generate, reusing non-biodegradable materials whenever possible, recycling where facilities exist, and most of all by always putting our garbage in a bin.”

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