Refuge Cay gets new lease on life
As millions of persons across the globe observed World Earth Day on Sunday under the theme 'End Plastic Pollution', Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited (KFTL) reported the removal of 8,299 bags of garbage, comprised mainly of plastics, from the Refuge Cay mangroves in Kingston.
Other items removed included 30 refrigerators, 13 cooking-gas cylinders, five washing machines and over 50 tyres. Miscellaneous items, such as car bumpers, crates, buckets, a scuba tank, nets, fishing lines and other small appliances, were also collected over a six-week period starting on January 18. This effort was the first phase of a clean-up and rehabilitation project sponsored by KFTL and executed by the University of the West Indies Centre for Marine Sciences and the Port Royal Marine Laboratory.
The second phase of the project, installing barriers to prevent further garbage build-up on the cay, was completed on March 22, while the third phase, which involves fisherfolk removing garbage built up in the barriers on a monthly basis, has started. The final phase, which involves replanting of mangrove saplings, is slated to begin in May.
Following on these gains, KFTL has also commenced initiatives at its facility to help end plastic pollution. These include removing single-use plastic straws from its canteen and embarking on a recycling campaign, which will encourage staff to separate various waste streams, including plastic. Moreover, plans have been initiated to replace the company's supply of styrofoam containers with biodegradable alternatives.
The Recycling Partners of Jamaica reported that between March 2014 and March 2017, it recovered over 3.3 million pounds of plastics - or more than 100 million bottles - from the environment in Jamaica.
Meanwhile, according to Earth Day Network, the organisation that leads Earth Day observations worldwide, over 300 million tons of plastic are sold globally each year, 90 per cent of which is discarded.