Gleaner Online
Updated Every Weekday at Noon - Jamaica Time Dec 7, 1998

Making money out of garbage

Turning trash into cash is the dream of Aubrey Atkins, a Jamaican architect trained in Britain and experienced in plastics technology. Mr. Atkins says heaps of money can be made from the many tons of garbage generated daily in Kingston and other urban centres across Jamaica.

His proposal calls for setting up collection points and sorting centres throughout the country. He wants Government to build a plant to convert and recycle waste plastic and glass, while burning combustive garbage to produce cheap electricity for resale to consumers.

Mr. Atkins who is now technical and management consultant at Jamaica Reinforced Plastics Ltd., says several years ago when he first proposed this plan to the Ministry of the Environment it would have cost about US$3.5 million. Today, with ecological concerns higher on the agenda, he is looking at US$7 million plus the cost of a proper feasibility study.

However, that cost would still be recoverable in a few years. But the main thrust of the plan, says Mr. Atkins, is its tremendous benefits for cleaning up the Jamaican nvironment which he points out is choking under garbage, especially those ubiquitous plastic bags and disposable bottles.

Broilers report

Jamaica Broilers Group, comprising some 20 subsidiaries, has announced net profit of $108.3 million for the financial year 1997-98. This is almost a hundred per cent decline from the $214 million profit achieved the year before. And this is in spite of Group sales increasing by 4.7 per cent to an all-time high of $5 billion.

President and joint chief executive officer, Robert Levy, says the past year was one of the most difficult in the company's recent history. It was marked by high interest rates, sluggish demand, labour unrest, increasing competition from imports and the devastating impact of drought on livestock operations.

The Group's net current assets show significant improvement from $118m to $320m, due to some short term borrowings being moved into a 3-year term loan. But increasing costs and a fixed capital investment of $121 million mean that the shareholders of Jamaica Broilers Group are not likely to receive an end-of-year dividend. However, an interim dividend was declared earlier; and the directors are recommending a one for seven bonus shares issue to be paid out of retained earnings.

Of course, this requires approval of the Group's annual general meeting, which takes place today from 10 a.m at Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston. Jamaica Broilers stock traded firm on Thursday at 75 cents.

Relaunch pays off

Grace, Kennedy and Company Ltd recorded Group sales of $11.2 billion for the first nine months of this year, almost 11 per cent over the corresponding period last year, according to unaudited figures. Group trading profit increased by $100 million, up 21 per cent to $583.9 million. But according to Chief Executive Douglas Orane, the net profit attributable to shareholders decreased to $50.4m, down $4m from last year's figure.

Mr. Orane says the Grace brand's relaunch this year led to a hike of 29 per cent in international sales and 12 per cent increase locally. The company's subsidiaries showed mixed performance. But high costs were incurred from redundancies, a major but essential re-engineering programme and other exceptional items.

Grace stocks moved up yesterday to $22.20. And as you may have heard, Grace made history in the region last week as the first non-local company to be listed on the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange.

(Taken from the Sunday Gleaner)

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