The Government is to focus on a deposit refund scheme that is to be backed by legislation, for plastic bottles.
In providing an update on the ban of some single-use plastic packaging materials in the Senate on June 17, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Matthew Samuda, said the scheme aims to increase the percentage of plastic bottles that are collected for recycling.
“This statement in no way diminishes the efforts of the plastic manufacturers by way of the Jamaica Recycling Partners initiative, or that of any of the other recycling companies currently operating in Jamaica. Their efforts are to be acknowledged and congratulated,” said Samuda.
He noted, however, that the results of the overall effort are not in line with the country’s national targets of approximately 60 per cent.
“My information is that less than 20 per cent of newly produced bottles are collected for recycling. The USA nationally is only at about nine per cent, so our ambition cannot be based solely on what others do, it has to be based on what best practices are available for us to achieve our national ambitions, and our target needs to be above 60 per cent,” the minister said.
“We will ask, over time, as we build out this system, to get formal declaration of this target in the way we have formal targets for protected areas. We need formal targets on how we manage our waste… but that will take some time,” he added.
Samuda said the Government will be working with all stakeholders, including the Opposition, “as we develop the policy, legislation and operational ways”.
He pointed out that plastic bottles represent approximately 13 per cent of the Jamaican waste stream.
Samuda said although plastic bottles are not banned locally at present, given the current unstable geopolitical environment, the bottles require and deserve a significant focus from the Government.
“In the current unstable geopolitical environment, glass bottles are simply not available in the quantities required by our market. Several of our manufacturers who use glass, who have long-term buying relationships, are struggling to keep pace with current demand. That means, quite frankly, that at this stage, plastic bottles are not bannable,” he said.
Meanwhile, he added that the Government will be re-engaging the public to remind persons of the ban on some plastics and the attendant environmental implications of their use.