Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Japan to assist Jamaica's garbage problem

Published:Monday | August 1, 2016 | 8:00 AMJason Cross
Soldiers collect plastic bottles during a recent coastal cleanup exercise in St Andrew.

The horrible condition of Jamaica's waste management system is expected to improve over the next year due to bilateral arrangements between the Government, through its National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), and the government of Japan.

Jamaica now has a population of approximately 2.8 million people that is believed to generate roughly 1.2 million tons of solid waste annually. Only about 75 per cent of the waste actually reaches NSWMA disposal sites. Of the remaining 15 per cent, which comprises mostly plastic bottles, a small portion is recycled by private recyclers. The rest of it finds its way on the streets, in gullies, drains, the sea and on beaches.

The NSWMA and the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) have entered an agreement through which NSWMA staff will be trained in solid waste management in Japan, as that country has one of the best garbage disposal and recycling systems in the world.

After training, they will return to sensitise Jamaicans on good waste management practices, including proper collection of recyclable materials from households and diversion of these materials to recycling facilities. In the long term, it is expected that the project will impact both rural and urban communities but will initially be rolled out in Caymanas Estate, Caribbean Estate and Rollington Town.

JICA has provided a J$6.5-million grant to fund the project. The NSWMA contributed J$1 million. The project was launched last week at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston and was held under the theme 'Waste Reduction through Waste Separation, Waste Diversion and Recycling Pilot Project'.

"Today, we are embarking on an aspect of environmental management that is commonplace in many developed countries, and which will be a critical indicator of Jamaica's own path to developed-country status by the year 2030," said Denzil Thorpe, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

"The creation of new efficiencies in garbage collection, as well as converting waste to new by-products, including energy, are crucial parts of the Government's developmental plans. The launch of this pilot project shows the seriousness with which this is being taken. It is an absolute necessity."