A new recycling initiative known as “Recycle Now Jamaica” was launched at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Wednesday, February 12, 2014.

The initiative is spearheaded by by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and leaders in the manufacturing industry who have come together to form a non-profit, public/private organisation called Recycling Partners of Jamaica. Entities involved in the project are the WISYNCO Group, Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, GraceKennedy Foods and Services, Jamaica Beverages, LASCO, Trade Winds Citrus and Seprod as well as GOJ through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme JEEP.

As a start, the Government has committed J$50M per annum for 3 years, while the group of manufacturers has committed $23.75M per annum  for 3 years. It is expected that other manufacturers will also come on board before operations commence in May, 2014.

The primary product that the initiative will initially focus on is the reclaimed post –consumer polyethylene terephthalate (otherwise known as PET) bottles. Future plans of the initiative will include expanding the base of collection to include HDPE, PVC, paper and other materials.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Transport, Works & Housing Minister Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies said that the initiative “represents a remarkable demonstration of a rare phenomenon, that of joined up government as the project will impact on the work of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, through the NSWMA; the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change; as well as the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing through JEEP and the NWA.”

In outlining details of the Project, the Minister said that in Jamaica, used PET bottles account for about 14% of the solid waste generated. Continuing, he said, “It is the highest category of waste after compostable but it has a major deficiency in that it is not biodegradable. A large percentage of PET bottles are collected and disposed of on the nation’s landfill and this has negative environmental consequences. Majority of the PET bottles are imported by the private sector although some are manufactured in Jamaica.”

Any revenue stream generated from the Project will be re-invested in expanding the reach and efficiency of waste reclamation. In the initial stages, the organisation will collect and process bottles for export and will provide funding and stewardship of national recycling and environmental awareness programme through public education and also provide sustainable employment. In terms of employment, the projection is that jobs will be created for over 300 JEEP recycling collectors as well as the staff for the collection sites. Financial incentives will also be provided to independent collectors in order to stimulate the rate of collection.

Apart from the collection sites, the private sector partners will be responsible for the construction of a facility to consolidate and super compact the used PET bottles. This will be known as the Consolidation and Logistics Hub. It will house the bailing line, a storage facility for finished products as well as office space.

In terms of location, the GOJ through JEEP will provide the property for four satellite depots in strategic locations of the island to facilitate collection from the JEEP workers and other recycling collectors in major towns. The depots will be the facilities where certified JEEP collectors will take the reclaimed PET waste for which they will be paid on a weight basis.

Among the other presenters at the launch were Mr. William Mahfood, Chairman, WISYNCO Group; Mr. Jose Sanabria, Caribbean Vice President, CBC; Ms. Diana McCaulay, CEO, Jamaica Environment Trust; Hon. Noel Arscott, Minister of Local Government & Community Development; Hon. Robert  Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change and Mrs. Lucille Brodber, Project Director, JEEP