Sat | Jan 28, 2023

NSWMA urges J’cans to use gift bags, shun wraps to protect environment

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2022 | 1:03 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
The National Solid Waste Management Authority mascot poses with students of the Negril Primary School in Westmoreland on Thursday.
The National Solid Waste Management Authority mascot poses with students of the Negril Primary School in Westmoreland on Thursday.


The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is encouraging Jamaicans to purchase gift bags instead of traditional gift wraps and seek out recyclable options in planning events this Christmas season to reduce pollution.

Audley Gordon, the executive director of the NSWMA, made the call on Thursday, noting that everyone should take personal responsibility for keeping their homes and community spaces clean.

Speaking with students at the Negril Primary School in Westmoreland on the commencement of Operation Sweep in the parish, he noted that the agency was on a campaign to break old and bad habits by reaching out to school-age children who can, in turn, influence their parents to change.

“I am begging you to help me make this Christmas the best one ever by telling mommy and daddy to buy reusable plates and buy gift bags instead of gift wraps,” Gordon urged the students.

In seeking to get the buy-in from the students, Gordon assured them that one reusable gift bag can be used to deliver a gift to a friend, family member, or a neighbour many times – upwards of 30 persons – before it has reached its useful limit.

“What has happened in Jamaica, is that too many of our people are not caring. They are not cleaning their surroundings, so I want you to go home and tell your parents that we are going to be the cleanest family around here,” Gordon said. “And it is not just our home, wherever we go, .. if all of you go and do that, all the communities will be clean. Tell mommy and daddy when they are buying Christmas gifts, buy it in the gift bag, don’t buy the [gift] paper that you have to throw away. Buy the gift bag so you can reuse it.”

Meanwhile, Gordon said Jamaicans will begin to see an improvement in the collection of their solid waste under the islandwide Operation Sweep initiative.

He also attended the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation meeting on Thursday, where he apologised for the poor service the state agency has been providing over the last 10 months.

“We have incurred quite a debt to the people of Jamaica and Westmoreland, in particular. We did not provide the type of service that the people deserved in the last eight to 10 months. Things really got a little behind on us,” Gordon told councillors.

“We came down because there is a genuine need in the parish for some extra attention from the NSWMA. We acknowledge the debt that we owe to the people and we want to pay that debt,” he said. “We believe that the service is not where it should be, and we believe that once we have these trucks, we should not spare any effort to attempt to correct it.”

Some 12 garbage trucks are now servicing communities across Westmoreland under Operation Sweep.

In October, more than 150 communities across the parish had been affected by a backlog in garbage collection.

On Thursday, the NSWMA’s sweeping initiative went into operation in Westmoreland Western, with Westmoreland Central, including parish capital Savanna-la-Mar, targeted on Friday.

The operation will wrap up activities in the parish on Saturday, when Westmoreland Eastern will be given attention.

Gordon said once that is completed, community waste collection will return to once per week, barring the need to pull trucks for servicing or any unforeseen circumstances.