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Plastic problem alert - Over three million pounds collected by Recycling Partners since 2014

Published:Saturday | January 6, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A volunteer moves some of the thousands of discarded PET bottles taken from the Palisadoes beach on International Coastal Cleanup Day last year.

Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) is to expand its efforts to reduce plastic waste in Jamaica this year.

The public-private sector group aims to increase the 2018 collection of polythene terephthalate (PET) bottles and continue the fight against plastic pollution.

In Jamaica, it is estimated that 600 million PET bottles are used each year. However, according the UK-based Guardian newspaper, one million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number is forecasted to jump another 20 per cent by 2021.

"Jamaica must adopt a culture of constant recycling, which will contribute to decreasing our carbon footprint and ultimately protecting our environment," declared Francois Chalifour, vice-chairman of the board of directors at RPJ.


Serious problem


Though PET bottles are widely the most recycled plastic in the world, the 2020 prediction poses a serious problem.

It is believed that the surge in plastic bottle usage will outstrip worldwide recycling efforts. PET pollution severely jeopardises oceans, coastlines and other areas and needs to controlled or continuously addressed through recycling.

"Plastics like PET most likely touch your fingertips at least twice every day in soft drinks and water bottles. As its use soars across the island, efforts to collect and recycle the bottles to keep them from contributing to pollution must keep up. The year 2018 will no doubt provide more opportunities for RPJ to do just that," said Chalifour.

RPJ reports that between its inception in March 2014 and March 2017, 3.3 million pounds of plastics - or well over 100 million bottles - have been recovered from the environment in Jamaica.


Intensified efforts


The entity has recently intensified recycling efforts at consumption points through partnerships with social and entertainment events. For these events, RPJ is prepared to deploy a truck and a team to retrieve PET plastic bottles on site.

"In fulfilling our mandate to reduce plastics in our sidewalks, drains, coastlines and landfills, across the island, RPJ urges all Jamaicans to separate PET plastics," said Chalifour.

RPJ has also introduced a programme to incentivise the separation and delivery of the plastics.

Individuals are allowed to turn in bottles at RPJ's Lyndhurst Road location, where they are valued based on weight. After which, the collectors receive a numbered and signed voucher, which authorises the collection of cash at select LASCO Money locations across the island.

In addition to its Lyndhurst Road location, RPJ depots can be found in Mandeville, Manchester; Whitehall, Westmoreland; Greenwood, St James; and Port Maria, St Mary.

RPJ is a registered charitable and the designated national recycling entity, formed by public and private partnership, with the Government of Jamaica and several private partners, including the Wisynco Group Limited, Pepsi Cola Jamaica Bottling Limited, Grace Foods & Services Limited, Jamaica Beverages Limited and LASCO Manufacturing.