Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Letter of the Day | Plastic bottle law could spark recycling reform

Published:Saturday | June 24, 2017 | 6:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The companies that package products in plastic bottles are fully aware that Jamaica does not take sanitation or recycling seriously, yet they continue to churn out their products by the millions with no interest or alternative plans for correct disposal, making for some of the worst cases of corporate irresponsibility and profiteering through total disregard for the environment.

As the saying goes, no one raindrop ever takes responsibility for the flood, and in the truest sense of that analogy, every single beverage and water company selling into this market that does not come with redemption built in to encourage recycling and the picking of the environment clean by scavengers are themselves responsible for every instance of damage where it is clearly proven that plastic bottles blocked the waterways and water courses that led to, or exacerbated, flooding.

This is not to excuse the citizenry from the disgusting habit of wantonly littering the environment, but as our experience has shown, it is far easier to enforce through greed than through discipline. One wonders why a beverage container bill placing the responsibility to clean up after themselves on the manufacturers/importers, via a redemption tax, has never been done.

EVERY SINGLE flood demonstrates the need for such legislation, yet for reasons they alone could know or answer, political parties continue to ignore this dire need.

Once more, we suggest that a tax be levied on the manufacture and importation of plastic bottles into this market that could be used as an incentive for gathering and returning to central collection sites where they could be reduced, recycled, or repurposed.

Properly and effectively done, it would encourage the indigent and otherwise unemployable to literally pick the environment clean in exchange for money at the lowest levels of the economy, creating a win-win-win scenario for the poor, the nation, and even the manufacturers themselves.

It is an abdication of governmental, if not parliamentary, responsibility that this issue is not occupying a front-burner position in the national conversation at the level where laws are passed.

The nation cannot continue to be mismanaged in the name of tribal politics and greed. We, as a people, need to get our collective act together and decide if what we want is a nation that works.

If it is, we are going to need sensible laws that solve problems, like in this case, the desperate need for a plastic-bottle bill that cleans up the environment and reduces the effects and instances of flooding.

PHILLIP E. ALEXANDER