Feature
A member of the public demonstrates the effective use of a paper bag for the packaging of grocery items, during the National Environment and Planning Agency's (NEPA) public education tour on the ban on single use plastics, which kicked off in Montego Bay, St. James on January 10. Looking on is Environmental Officer at NEPA, Johnil Morgan.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • The Government has kicked off its education campaign on the ban on single use plastics, with a team from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) travelling across the island, and educating members of the public about the recently introduced measure aimed at saving the environment.
  • A four-leg public education tour, targeting consumers as well as small and large-scale business operators, got underway on January 10 in the western city of Montego Bay.
  • Public Education Officer at NEPA, Shahri Miller, tells JIS News that the objective is to garner more public support for the ban and sensitize citizens about available alternatives to plastic.

The Government has kicked off its education campaign on the ban on single use plastics, with a team from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) travelling across the island, and educating members of the public about the recently introduced measure aimed at saving the environment.

A four-leg public education tour, targeting consumers as well as small and large-scale business operators, got underway on January 10 in the western city of Montego Bay.

Public Education Officer at NEPA, Shahri Miller, tells JIS News that the objective is to garner more public support for the ban and sensitize citizens about available alternatives to plastic.

“We want people to be a part of the plastic ban. We want them to buy into the message and into the cultural change of making our environment better,” she says.

“We started January 10 in Montego Bay and we spent three days there. We went out in the town – Sam Sharpe Square, Barnett Street, and Fairview Shopping Centre. What we found was that people didn’t quite know the details of the ban,” Ms. Miller points out.

She notes that citizens also wanted to know “what the alternatives are, where they can get them and how much they cost.”

The NEPA team visited Santa Cruz and Black River in St. Elizabeth; May Pen and Lionel Town in Clarendon; and Ochi Rios, St. Ann for the second leg of the tour from January 17 to 19.

The third leg, from January 24 to 26, took the team to Buff Bay and Port Antonio, Portland; Port Maria and Highgate in St. Mary; and Morant Bay and Yallahs in St. Thomas.

The NEPA team, during the tour, is introducing persons to samples of food boxes made from cardboard, drinking straws made from paper, and reusable totes bags.

They are reminding citizens that large garbage bags are not banned and, along with cardboard boxes, can be used to containerize their household waste.

During the tour, flyers are left in the towns and communities and persons are encouraged to share what they have learnt.

Ms. Miller tells JIS News that residents were “receptive to the message. Generally they are in support of the ban…they understand that plastic is harmful to the environment.”

She says that in addition to the tours, meetings are ongoing with stakeholder groups to sensitize them about the provisions under the ban.

“We’re in touch with the Small Business Association of Jamaica to schedule a time to talk to them. We also have an upcoming arrangement with the Moravian Church to speak at their annual general meeting. There is also a lecture that we will be a part of on January 31,” she says.

NEPA has also been receiving and accommodating requests from various groups for presentations about the ban.

The agency, on January 10, made presentations to the St. James Municipal Corporation and at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce.

“Because the plastic ban has so many details and pieces of information that are relevant to businesses, stakeholders and the general public, we felt that we needed to reach them on the ground, face-to-face and to get their feedback. This is a means of educating and informing persons just like radio and print advertisements,” Ms. Miller points out.

The fourth and final leg of the all-island plastic ban public education tour is scheduled for February 6 – 9, with visits to Mandeville, Manchester; Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland; Lucea, Hanover; and Falmouth, Trelawny.

Pop-up visits in St. Catherine and Kingston are also planned for the third and fourth week of February, respectively.

The plastic ban, which came into effect on January 1, is on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of single-use plastic carrier bags measuring 24” x 24” and smaller; the importation and manufacture of commonly called styrofoam products used in the food and beverage industry; and the importation and manufacture of plastic drinking straws.