THE NATIONAL Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) will be ramping up efforts this year to keep the country clean and safeguard public health.
Executive director of NSWMA, Jennifer Edwards, has said focus will be placed on waste reduction, through a series of public-education messages, to encourage members of the public to reuse, reduce and recycle.
She said waste reduction has become a major issue in Jamaica, primarily because persons are not managing their garbage. She argued that waste management can and should become a way of life, and, if practised continuously, will make the collection process easier.
One such way is by composting waste, such as leftover vegetables, and peels from ground provisions such as yam and bananas.
"Put them in a container, add a little dirt, stir it and use as fertiliser for potted plants and lawns, which makes them look lush and will ultimately reduce the amount of waste that goes into our disposal sites," she advised.
Edwards also urged persons to reuse plastic containers and boxes. "So we are saying to persons, reuse as much as you can to prevent excess garbage. If you have boxes, use them for your children to do their drawing, or find some other creative way to utilise them," she urged.
The executive director said even though recycling is not a major business in Jamaica, because of inadequate facilities, waste materials suitable for reprocessing can be packaged by the NSWMA and exported if containerised by citizens.
Importantly, Edwards is advising citizens to avoid putting electronics into solid waste that is to be collected because it is very difficult to separate, once it gets into compactors.
"Keep electronics separate, call us and we will make arrangements for them to be collected separately from the rest of the waste," Edwards stated.
As the lead agency charged with the responsibility of keeping Jamaica clean, Edwards said NSWMA is fully committed to carrying out its duty to collect, transport, store and manage solid waste, "in order to prevent it from becoming a public and a health nuisance".
Highlighting the agency's tagline: 'Jamaica's Beauty is our duty', the executive director noted that keeping Jamaica clean is not just the responsibility of the Government but is, in fact, the obligation of every citizen.
"It is the responsibility of non-government organisations, private sector companies, government entities and individual citizens. We have a responsibility to keep Jamaica clean, so don't just throw your trash in the streets bag it, containerise it and we will collect it," she implored.
Edwards mentioned the ongoing 'Keep Jamaica Clean' campaign, an initiative of the Government of Jamaica, which is intended to encourage citizens into the habit of keeping their surroundings clean.
NSWMA has also assigned community relations officers in each region across the island, to educate citizens about how best to manage their solid waste.
"As part of our mandate, we visit schools, parent-teachers associations and citizens' associations meetings to interact and educate them about how best to reuse, reduce and recycle solid waste," she noted.