Sun | May 28, 2023

Clarifications on plastic bottle refund scheme

Published:Monday | July 5, 2021 | 12:05 AM


The Gleaner editorial on Wednesday, June 30, ‘Need clarity on plastic bottle refund scheme’, raised a number of pertinent issues related to the Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles. All the information on which the editorial seeks clarity had been previously published and is already in the public domain, but we use this opportunity to summarise them.

The new drive to deal with the problem of PET and HDPE plastic bottles improperly disposed of and ending up in the waste stream, is being carried forward on three planks – remuneration, motivation, and convenience.

The remuneration consists of the $50-per-kilogramme payment for plastic bottles as cited by Minister Pearnel Charles, Jr. This incentive will create a small trade in the collection of the bottles from the streets and households and for delivery to a redemption centre.

A public awareness campaign has been under way since earlier this year; these include social media messaging, radio ads, billboards, and advertisements in this newspaper. The editorial’s call, therefore, for a “public education campaign” would have been relevant only before the campaign actually started.

The plank not mentioned in the editorial is that of convenience, which is being effected through the establishment of locations where PET & HDPE plastic bottles can be redeemed, as well as the placement of cages in which bottles can be donated. Some 160 cages have been placed across the country; and redemption centres, which facilitate the DRS, are being constructed. Six are complete, and every month more will be added. The locations of all redemption centres and cages are on the Recycling Partners of Jamaica’s (RPJ’s) website and social media pages.

The public-private partnership facilitated by the RPJ is the product of more than two years of engagement that included bottlers, distributors, environmental activists, a think tank, and an international consultancy. The editorial states that the minister “has to engage in a much deeper conversation with stakeholders”. It is unclear which stakeholder it feels has been left out of the consultation and to what depth the consultations should further plumb.

After much consideration and deliberation, the RPJ determined that a single price for both PET and HDPE plastics (by weight) was the best solution because it is more easily understandable to consumers and is simpler, operationally, on the redemption and payment side. The editorial’s suggestion that the proposed stakeholder discussion, which I noted above has already taken place, might include the appropriateness of the single price, has therefore also already taken place.

Success is not guaranteed. We will be measuring it on a monthly basis and revisiting our three planks to see which of them can be enhanced to push further and faster towards achieving our target. It is imperative that we make our best and most sincere effort.



Recycling Partners of Jamaica