Monday, April 15, 2024

Jamaica: plastics ban creates new opportunities

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Every September, on International Coastal Cleanup Day in Jamaica, plastic is the most collected material. In 2019, the top 10 items collected were all single-use plastic and polystyrene (foam) waste, anything from plastic bottles to food wrappers.

More than 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans globally, each year, adversely impacting ecosystems, biodiversity and potentially human health.

According to the Jamaica’s Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), marine litter within the country’s coastal waters has significantly impacted the tourism and fisheries industries. To reverse this trend a national ban on single-use plastics was launched on January 1, 2019, with several phases.

The final phase, which applies to 24” by 24” single-use plastic bags and disposable drinking straws attached to drink boxes or pouches, began on January 1, 2021. The government has granted a six-month transition period to the private sector and has committed to increasing public education and awareness-raising activities.

A growing problem

Of the 800,000 tons of residential waste, Jamaica generates annually, 15 per cent is estimated to be plastics. While three-quarters of this is disposed of at legal disposal sites, the remainder often ends up in drains, rivers, gullies, beaches and, ultimately, the ocean. The plastic pollution results in flooding and damage to coastal and marine ecosystems and is creating an unhealthy environment for local populations. Read more…

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