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JIS News

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has collected more than 5,000 used lead acid batteries under the national campaign for the removal of the batteries from public places.
Kingston and St. Andrew accounts for the majority of batteries collected so far, with good rates of return in Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland.
Director of Enforcement and Compliance at NSWMA, Ann Marie Rodriguez, speaking recently to JIS News, noted that the collection process has been moderate to date and called for greater public support for the Used Lead Acid Battery (ULAB) campaign.
“We feel that we can get better participation,” she said, noting that the NSWMA was particularly concerned about the probable high number of batteries lying around residences. “We think we can up the numbers if we can get those,” the Director said.
At the inception of the battery collection drive two months ago, the NSWMA, working with the Ministry of Health, identified a number of locations where batteries were stockpiled. These locations were termed red areas. “They might have been garages, car marts, or open dumps island wide,” Miss Rodriguez explained to JIS News.
“Once there were more than 10 or 20 batteries on these sites, we deemed them red areas and targeted those areas . we have cleaned up maybe 90 per cent of those areas already,” she informed.
The ULAB campaign is an initiative of the Ministry of Land and Environment in collaboration with several private and public sector entities. Slated to span a period of six months, the project’s aim is to minimise the threat posed to public health and the environment from the improper disposal of the batteries. It involves the island wide collection of the batteries and subsequent export of the items for recycling.
In respect to funding, participating government entities such as the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA); the Ministries of Health and Transport and Works; and Jamaica Customs, have lent support to the project.
Assistance has also come from private sector entities, which are primarily representatives of the lead acid battery sector. These include Tropical Battery Company Limited, Automotive Power Company Limited, Performance Distributors Limited, Industrial Metal and Salvage Limited, and Container Inspection Services Limited.
The battery collection thrust continues until November, and Miss Rodriguez has advised that persons interested in turning in their used batteries could telephone the NSWMA’s hotline at 754-5949, to receive additional information as to the locations where they could drop off the batteries.
“The batteries are not collected along with the residential waste so they will not form a part of your regular household collection,” she explained. As such, she said, “we are asking people to do one of two things, bring them to locations that can be gotten from our hotline number or they can bring them out for special collection units that will pick them up.”
The arrival of the special units are to be preceded by town criers travelling to the various parishes, who will announce to householders having any used batteries, to bring them out.
Once the batteries are collected, Miss Rodriguez informed, they are exported to Trinidad and Tobago and Israel to be processed and recycled.
The NSWMA Director stressed that improper handling of used lead acid batteries can result in lead poisoning or lead ingestion, and noted that children were particularly susceptible to such dangers.
“We are therefore asking the public to participate by taking your batteries in to the locations”, she said, further noting that persons should carefully handle batteries when bringing them in.
She reiterated that Jamaicans should endeavour to support the project as best they could, as the aim was not only to safeguard their own health, but the health of the nation’s children as well.