Wednesday 19 December, 2018

Gov’t encouraged to speed-up plans for plastic bottle buy-back scheme

Mahfood has maintained that a ban on plastics is not the answer to the solid waste problems in Jamaica; but rather, requires proper management on a national scale, which includes proper recycling mechanisms.

Mahfood has maintained that a ban on plastics is not the answer to the solid waste problems in Jamaica; but rather, requires proper management on a national scale, which includes proper recycling mechanisms.

Chairman of the Wysinco Group, William Mahfood, has called on the government to expedite plans to implement a plastic bottle deposit refund scheme, which would encourage more Jamaicans to recycle.

 “Under this scheme, every plastic bottle which is manufactured in Jamaica will have a dollar figure attached to it, which will be charged at the point-of-sale and then consumers will have the ability to get back their funds when they return the bottle,” he outlined.

Mahfood was speaking on Tuesday (September 18), at day-two of Engineers’ Week, which is being held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, under the theme: “Engineering our Future through Celebrating our Heritage.”

The event, which is being sponsored, in part, by JN Bank, commenced on Monday and will run until Friday. Mahfood was presenting on the topic, “Is the End of Plastic Near?” 

His call for the speedy implementation of a plastic bottle buy-back scheme was made in response to the government's announcement of a ban on the importation, manufacture and distribution of three types of plastic products effective January 1, 2019.

Mahfood has maintained that a ban on plastics is not the answer to the solid waste problems in Jamaica; but rather, requires proper management on a national scale, which includes proper recycling mechanisms.

The Wysinco Chairman said a deposit refund system for plastics would help to reduce the large numbers of PET bottles and other items that are being improperly disposed across the country.

“Down the road, I see an environment in which you can go into a supermarket with your plastic bottles, stick it into a machine and you will get a ticket that you will be able to use in the store,” he said.

Mahfood said the plan is to attain an 80 per cent collection rate of all PET materials.

“That will take us some time to build out the infrastructure and develop the whole system effectively. Once we get to that level, there’s enough scale and volume there, which will allow us to take that post consumer waste and convert it either back into new bottles, or reuse it to create other products,” he stated.

Mahfood further disclosed that, “At the moment, there is a machine being installed in Montego Bay, St James which can be used to convert PET waste into roofing shingles.”

He said the Wysinco Group is also looking at a project to convert the plastic into “yam sticks,” to be used by farmers in the agricultural industry.

“Therefore, this plan would have a dual environmental impact. It would reduce the cutting down of the young trees to be used as yam sticks in the central part of the island; and would also result in PET scraps being used to make yam sticks,” he said.   

Earlier this year, the government announced that it would spend approximately $75 million, over the next three years, towards the implementation of a plastic bottle deposit scheme.

Engineers’ Week is being held in collaboration with the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers and will see discussions on a wide range of topics, such as: energy, manufacturing, climate change, agriculture, procurement and contract management.

During the week of activities university students will also participate in an engineering competition, in which they will use macaroni to engineer models of various structures.

On Friday, there will be a Contract Administration workshop; and on Sunday, a tour will be conducted at the Jamaica Public Service 190 Power Plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine.

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