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The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is undertaking a pilot project on the separation of plastic containers in three communities in the Corporate Area.

The initiative got underway on May 1 in Havendale, Karachi and Whitfield Town in Kingston and over the next six months, residents will be encouraged to separate plastic containers from their regular household waste.

The main objectives of the pilot are to assess the willingness of citizens to separate plastic containers and to have sufficient data to implement an effective national programme by the start of the next financial year.

Speaking at the official launch of the project on May 11 at the NSWMA’s head offices at 61 Half-Way-Tree Road, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, said the project will assist in reducing the amount of plastic that is deposited at the landfills.

He informed that recycling one tonne of plastic saves approximately 7.4 cubic yard of landfill space. “If we can reduce the inundation of plastic materials at these sites, we will begin to make progress toward achieving international standards in environmental protection,” he stated.

Recycling plastic, he noted further, also conserves energy. “Producing new plastic from recycled material uses 2/3 less energy than making products from virgin raw materials,” he said, adding that it also reduces greenhouse gas emission.

Mr. Arscott said the government is committed to creating respect for the environment by ensuring that the country’s carbon footprint is reduced through the plastic separation project.

He bemoaned that the continued spending to clear garbage, including plastics, from gullies, drains, waterways and streets, has been significantly impacting the budgets of central and local governments. “This action results in extremely high cost to the government especially during periods of heavy rain and the hurricane season,” he stated.

He said that all parish councils have been mandated to commence a cleanup project, which will run in tandem with the plastic recycling initiative.       

Mr. Arscott informed that the government will be exploring biodegradable packaging materials for the future, noting that plastic bottles take some 450 million years to degrade.

For the project, specially marked and coloured bags will be provided to the residents. Collection from the communities will be done between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and every two weeks thereafter. Sensitisation programmes are scheduled to ensure that interest is maintained throughout the pilot stage.

In addition to the three communities, the Minister informed that the regional bodies of the NSWMA will be embarking on similar projects for schools and communities. The agency, he said, will work closely with schools to teach the children how to separate plastic from other solid waste.

                       

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter