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Cashing in on waste

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Hundreds of jobs to be created as Canadian firm heads to Jamaica to construct solar-powered recycling plant

Sheena Gayle, Sunday Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:Canadian-based recycling company Panther Corporation will build the first solar-powered recycling centre in Jamaica, representing a multibillon-dollar investment and the prospect of thousands of jobs being created.

The company will invest US$26 million to construct and outfit a 30,000 square foot modular facility in Retirement, St James, in proximity to the Retirement Dump, something the company's president and director, Michael Mosgrove, is excited about.

"It was a perfect fit for Jamaica and for us because of the sunlight. In addition, the demand for recycling in Jamaica is huge right now," the Canadian investor told The Sunday Gleaner in a telephone interview.

He added that the company was aware of the high cost of electricity on the island and the tendency for regular increases, and this was among the reasons the company chose the route of having the facility run on solar energy.

"The recycling centre will be able to run on 600 volts on the solar system for eight hours a day without grid power. The solar system cost US$4.2 million and will pay for itself in six years. It is a completely green facility and will be the first of its kind in the world," said Mosgrove, although other companies have reported building solar-powered plants in other countries.

Panther Corporation will be recycling paper, plastic, cardboard, medical waste, motor vehicle tyres, and food waste at its Montego Bay plant.

The recycling centre should be in operation by September as the company will not be using the traditional construction methods.

It is expected to create up to 5,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.

investment welcomed

Chairman of the St James Parish Council and Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris welcomed the investment and underscored the commitment of the municipal authority to preserve the environment and save the country billions in waste disposal.

"We are committed to keeping the city clean, creating jobs, and increasing the level of foreign investments in the city. This represents a first for the parish of St James, which is why the council took a unanimous decision to allow this development to go through," said Harris.

He added that after several meetings with representatives of the political directorate in Canadian, a Jamaica-born Canadian, and representatives of Panther Corporation, the council was convinced that this would greatly advance the efforts to address waste management.

"The country spends billions per year on waste management through the National Solid Waste Man-agement Authority, and with the introduction of this player in the industry, it will help us to cut our costs, preserve the environment, and open up doors for employment," said Harris.