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Before you toss that next item you consider at the end of its useful life into the garbage, you might want to stop and think whether it is actually the beginning of something else. Why not repurpose that shoe box or reuse those worn car tyres?

According to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Jamaica produces an average of 8,657 tonnes of solid waste per day. Not all of this waste has been properly disposed of with figures showing that between 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. So, just how important is recycling?

Here are some ways in which recycling helps you and your environment.

1. Recycling reduces the amount of garbage in landfills. This helps to conserve valuable land space.
2. Recycling conserves natural resources such as trees, oils, and minerals which are depleted less rapidly when material derived from them such as paper, glass, and metal are recycled.
3. Over time, waste in landfills leaks harmful toxins into the earth and greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons are released into the air. Recycling helps to reduce this pollution.
4. Compared to the energy needed to extract resources to make new materials, recycling uses less energy. For example, recycling paper and glass uses 40 per cent less energy, and recycling metal uses 95 per cent less.
5. Recycling helps to conserve the natural habitats of wild animals, thus also helping to protect their lives.

We can all do our part by participating in recycling efforts. The Jamaican government encourages persons to recycle by making simple changes, such as the ones listed below.

1. Purchase and use reusable products, such as shopping bags, and food and drink containers, instead of disposables.
2. Keep recyclable materials out of garbage bins and landfills. Instead of discarding items like paper, plastic bottles, glass containers, and aluminium cans, collect them and bring them to recycling depositories. Two major depositories are the privately owned Caribbean Scrap Metals and Recycling Company; and Recycling Partners of Jamaica (a public-private partnership).
3. Instead of regular domestic batteries, purchase and use recyclable batteries, which, on average, last 1000 times longer.
4. Where possible, purchase products packaged with little to no plastic. Plastics, because of their composition cannot be broken down easily like plants and other material. They also cannot be burned safely and will remain in the environment for thousands of years after being discarded. Plastics also present other issues besides being non-biodegradable. They are flammable and they are pollutants.
5. Donate clothes that you no longer wear, instead of discarding them.

For more information, please contact:
Jamaica Environment Trust
123 Constant Spring Road
Unit 5
Kingston 8
Telephone: 876 960-3693
Fax: 876 926-0212
Website: http://www.jamentrust.org

Recycling Partners of Jamaica
Lakes Pen Road
Spanish Town
St. Catherine
Telephone: 876 948-7381
Website: http://www.recyclingpartnersja.com