Sat | May 30, 2015

Extortion threatening plastic exports

Published:Friday | April 27, 2012

Damion Mitchell, Editor - Radio & Online

A St Andrew-based entity which has been collecting and exporting plastic bottles since 2005 is reporting that extortion and theft are increasingly threatening the business.

Each month, the organisation named Protect the Environment Trust collects and exports more than one million plastic bottles which would have ended up at the dump or in drains and gullies.

The bottles are collected from various companies and institutions like schools.

But speaking yesterday at a Gleaner Editors' Forum, W. D'Arcey Crooks, the executive director of the trust, said the business was now under threat.

"I know every police station now like the back of my hands," he said, showing a file of receipts confirming reports made to the police about extortion and theft at his Riverton Boulevard-based operations.

"The police come with fingerprint kits and to date I have heard nothing from anybody," he continued.

Crooks said he has lost computers, scales and other equipment and even a forklift that was bought with grant funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica to be used in the processing of plastic bottles each week in preparation for export.

Life threatened

Worse yet, Crooks said his life has been threatened on many occasions because he has refused to comply with the demands of the extortionists. However, he is maintaining that he will neither be giving in to the demands nor relocating.

"We are going to persevere, we have gone too far," he said. "If we stop doing what we are doing now, we would never get back to the place where we are."

At present, plastic bottle receptacles are placed in more than 100 schools and scores of businesses, and the demand is consistently increasing, said Crooks.

It takes 20 plastic bottles to make 1lb, and each day the trust collects about 1,000lb which help to make up the 40,000lb or just about one million bottles exported each month.

Contacted yesterday, Senior Superintendent of Police Delroy Hewitt said there was a general problem of extortion in the Riverton area, but he could not immediately address the specific concerns raised by Crooks.

damion.mitchell@gleanerjm.com