Regulations under Jamaica’s anti-litter law, governing the proper disposal of solid waste, are currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, with a view to strengthening the penalties for breaches.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, who made the disclosure, says an increase in the attendant fines is being considered as part of efforts to discourage improper disposal and enforce conformity with the law.
Addressing Friday’s (April 26) launch of phase two of the National Solid Waste Management Authority’s (NSWMA) Plastic Separation Pilot Project for Manchester at the Ingleside Wellness and Recreation Centre, Mr. Arscott described existing fines as “minimal”, compared to higher penalties which he said are imposed in other countries enforcing stipulated regulations, resulting in compliance by the populace.
"We are not enforcing our laws (sufficiently). The fines are minuscule…$2000 (for each breach committed). But nevertheless, if we were enforcing it, as (small) as it is, it would have made a difference," he said, noting that the NSWMA is revisiting the issue of enforcement.
Despite these challenges, Mr. Arscott said Jamaica’s waste management programme, in general, has improved. He was, however, quick to point out that the country still has a long way to go to being in par with other nations having good track records in this area. He further stressed the role and responsibility of every citizen in ensuring Jamaica attains the international standard.
The Minister advised that private sector input is being lobbied to assist in developing waste management systems that will complement the government’s efforts. To this end, he advised that stakeholders have been invited to submit proposals.
Noting that a range of options are being explored, Mr. Arscott said some the proposals are looking at the possibility of converting waste to diesel fuel and generating electricity from discarded materials.
The Minister advised that the NSWMA is also reviewing waste management procedures in several small landfills, such as the one serving Manchester and Clarendon. He informed that the intention is to decrease the amount of garbage processed at these facilities by recycling material that can be salvaged.
In so doing, he said this will facilitate much needed space that can be utilized for other activities, citing, as an example, that one tonne of plastic bottles occupies some 7.4 cubic yards of land area.
Under the Plastic Separation Project, which commenced as a pilot in Manchester in February, 100 households in Greenvale, Ingleside, and Hope Village, are being targeted with residents being encouraged to separate plastic containers from their regular domestic waste, to facilitate seamless collection and disposal.
The pilot phase for the parish is scheduled to end in July.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter