Wed | Jul 8, 2020

Earth Today | New plastics pollution control project coming for Jamaica

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Plastic pollution is a significant challenge for Jamaica and the Caribbean.

THE UNITED Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), through its Caribbean Subregional Office, is looking to develop a new project for Jamaica, one with a focus on the sustainable consumption and production of plastics.

The revelation has come from Christopher Corbin, programme officer for the pollution and communications subprogrammes in the Ecosystems Division of UNEP.

?We have just received approval by the Global Environment Facility to develop a new project proposal to continue to build and enhance the work by the Government of Jamaica on plastics,? he told The Gleaner.

The project, the precise scope of which is to be determined, is to build on the ongoing plastics programme, implemented by the UNEP/UN Environment with support from the Government of Japan, and is to succeed a recently completed a pilot project in Jamaica.


Done with funding support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Trash Free International Programme, the effort was dubbed 'Solid Waste Reduction, Westmoreland, Jamaica'.

It involved the Sandals Foundation, the National Environment and Planning Agency, Recycling Partners of Jamaica, and the National Solid Waste Management Authority, together with the Bluefields and White Horses communities.

Among the key achievements of that initiative, Corbin said, are:

- the collection of some 4,500 pounds of plastic bottles;

- the generation of 2,500 pounds of compost; and

- the training of 20 residents in composting and jewellery making, using items collected from the sea.

Some 3,445 persons, including 2,400 students and 1,045 adults, were also reached with key messages.

UN Environment has long given priority to plastic pollution, which represents a significant environmental and economic challenge to Jamaica and the Caribbean, as elsewhere in the world.

The scale of the challenge is reflected in data coming out of UNEP, including that some 275 million metric tonnes of waste generated in 192 coastal countries is made of plastic while 80% of litter in oceans is plastic. This is even as oceans are projected to have more plastic than fish by 2050.

Meanwhile, since 1950, a reported 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced along with 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste. In 2013 alone, 322 million tonnes of plastic was produced, according to the UN Environment.

In 2017, 4.8 million tonnes to 12.7 million metric tonnes of waste was dispersed in the oceans, damaging ecosystem to the tune of $8 billion.

Corbin has said in the past that cooperation among stakeholders, including governments and civil society actors, certainly in the Caribbean, is key to tackling the plastic challenge.

"Reducing pollution is extremely important, and governments of the wider Caribbean region must take responsibility for protecting and sustaining the quality of the coastal and marine environment of the Caribbean for current and future generations," he told The Gleaner in 2016.

The expectation is that the project that is to come will exploit partnerships in the bid to meet that challenge.