KINGSTON — Twenty Corporate Area schools are set to participate in a groundbreaking programme geared towards the separation and recycling of plastic bottles and other forms of solid waste.
This is in an effort to reduce pollution and safeguard the environment. The initiative, which is dubbed the “Recycle in Schools Project”, is being spearheaded by DECS Waste Management Services Limited and has been endorsed by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
Speaking at the official launch held at Kingston College (KC) in downtown Kingston on Friday, November 4, Managing Director, DECS Waste Management Services Sheldon Beckford informed that the company would be investing some $3 million in the programme over three years.
“This recycling initiative is part of a bold move by our company to impart a culture of recycling and environmental protection among the current and future generation of Jamaica,” he stated.
Phase one of the project, he noted, will commence in some 20 early childhood, primary and high schools throughout the Corporate Area, with plans to extend to St. Catherine in the near future.
“We decided to implement the programme at all school levels to ensure that the transformation takes place and is sustained well into the adult life of each student,” he remarked.
Mr. Beckford informed that in addition to putting a number of recycled bins in schools, the company will also embark on a prolonged public education campaign to ensure that the programme is sustained. “We will be spreading our message via Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks,” he said.
Mr. Beckford also informed that recycled waste, in the form of plastic bottles, will be collected from the schools twice per week, noting that in future phases of the project the collection of waste paper will also be included.
“Here at KC, five recycling bins have been placed at the North Street Campus, while five additional ones will be placed at the Melbourne Campus. The KC Key Clubbers will monitor the process and ensure that both staff and students use the bins as directed,” he informed, adding that “The club will make regular reports to the Fortis Pavilion, which will in turn make recommendations to DECS Waste Management.”
The company has also partnered with St. Jude’s Primary School where a waste management project has been implemented and is expected to lead into a similar recycling programme. “We have committed 20 drums to St. Jude’s which will be delivered shortly,” he said.
In endorsing the programme, Executive Director, NSWMA, Joan Gordon Webley, said she was pleased to see a private sector organisation taking up the mantle of environment protection.
“I want to congratulate you and I want to say welcome aboard and I hope you will not just stick to the plastic, but expand in other areas of solid waste. If more of us do what you have started to do, what we at the NSWMA have been doing, Jamaica will be a cleaner place,” she remarked.
Mrs. Gordon-Webley argued that recycling must become a part of Jamaica’s culture, noting that 61 per cent of solid waste in the country is recyclable material. “Here is a whole host of raw materials ready for us to use, all the waste haulers can use them,” she said.
Manager for Corporate Communications, at NEPA, Natalie Fearon, noted that DECS has taken a bold step in attempting to reduce the growing problem of pollution.
She said the company now joins ranks with a number of private sector organisations that have signalled that waste management should no longer be seen as a state-led activity but rather the responsibility of every person who produces waste.
She further noted that the significance of the initiative is best framed in the context of the reality the island faces in terms of waste management. Miss Fearon informed that the NSWMA estimates that only 75 per cent of the country’s household waste is collected. “This means that the remaining 25 per cent goes uncollected due to inaccessibility, competing disposal practices, and improper waste management practices,” she said.
In 2010, approximately 762 tonnes of solid waste were produced from residential sources, a decrease when compared to the previous year, which saw approximately 8,221 tonnes, she informed. “Notwithstanding this reduction, however in collecting waste streams, plastic bottles moved from 5.9 per cent collected in 2008, to 42 per cent in 2010. In effect, plastic bottles moved from fifth place to first place among the top ten wastes collected,” Miss Fearon remarked.
“It should be noted however that there is a significant number of plastic bottles and other wastes which will not make their way to waste disposal facilities and end up unfortunately in our gullies and water ways and ultimately across the coast line,” she advised.
She said the recycling programme will therefore help to reduce the amount of plastic bottles which end up in the country’s coast line annually “and with growing efforts now by both public and private sector we will undoubtedly see more change in the medium to long term”.
Acting Principal, KC, Everton Burrell said the school was pleased to be associated with the project, noting that it fits into the school’s mission of serving the wider community.
“We are all aware of the importance of preserving and protecting our environment. If we are careful in this regard then we will ensure that the prosperity and beauty of our blessed island is guaranteed,” he said.
Mr. Burrell said there was an urgent need to educate the population in proper disposal methods, noting that the KC community has committed itself, as responsible consumers, to play its part in ensuring “that we not only educate our students in the three Rs, but that we are also trailblazers in the preservation of the environment”.
President, Fortis Pavilion, Wayne Robertson; President, KC Old Boys’ Association, Dr. Ray Fraser; and President, KC Key Club, Shawn Martin also brought greetings at the event.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter