RPJ – leading the charge for a cleaner Jamaica

Sunday, September 09, 2018

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In a period where more people are becoming environmentally aware, and governments around the world are calling for greater actions to reduce the waste polluting our lands and seas, Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) is leading the charge to protect Jamaica's natural environment.

Jamaica faces a significant waste problem. Each individual produces an average of one kilogramme of waste per day. With a population of 2.7 million people, we generate about 2,700 tons of waste everyday – the equivalent to 2000 SUVS. About 30 per cent of that is inorganic, meaning it cannot be broken down easily and 46 per cent of all inorganic waste is plastic.

Jamaica produces or generates 500 million pounds of plastic each year. Approximately 10 per cent of that is recycled. It takes plastic anywhere between 500 - 1000 years to break down, meaning that our dumps are not considered as a reasonable solid waste solution for this material.

Additionally, much of this material makes its way to the streets and ocean, diminishing the quality of our terrestrial and aquatic environment.

Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ), founded in 2014, is a registered non-profit organisation and Jamaica's designated National Recycling Entity. It was formed by a public and private partnership between the Government of Jamaica via the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, and private partners: Wisynco Group Ltd, Pepsi Cola Jamaica Bottling Ltd, Grace Foods & Services Ltd, Jamaica Beverages Ltd, Lasco Manufacturing Ltd, Trade Winds Citrus Ltd and Seprod Ltd.

The primary aim of the organisation is to engage in the collection, recovery and disposition of recyclable products containing PET and HDPE materials.

Other pertinent aspects of the organisation are to create employment on a sustainable annual basis and source markets (local and international) for resale of the products recovered.

As of March 2018, RPJ has removed more than 4.8 million pounds of PET through its disposal sites by facilitating daily collections, key partnerships with various stakeholders, and a robust educational programme in schools.

In addition to the sheer volume of material collected, RPJ has instituted several key measures to increase the overall efficiency of its operations. These include a cost-cutting move from its Old Hope Road offices to Lakes Pen Road in St Catherine, as well as a 900 per cent increase in capacity, through the purchase of a new baler, therefore eliminating backlog.

RPJ currently has locations in Port Maria, Martin's Hill in Manchester, Green Wood in St James, Negril, Lakes Pen in St Catherine, on Lyndhurst Road and Constant Spring Road in Kingston and at Chukka Cove in Priory, St Ann.

The RPJ has several notable accomplishments which include developing a public education programme, implementing a cashless payment system in partnership with LASCO Financial Services, and constructing collection facilities at locations in St Mary, Montego Bay, Negril, Manchester and St Catherine. Additionally, over 100 schools islandwide are currently part of a sponsored, corporate recycling initiative.

The RPJ faces significant challenges, however, including high fuel and transportation costs.

The RPJ continues to seek creative ways to overcome the challenges faced, and is focused on accomplishing its very ambitious goals. The organisation is currently seeking to achieve the full participation of all schools islandwide in the National Recycling Programme by the end of 2019.

This will include coordination with stakeholders and collection partners, such as CHUKKA Cove and Mystic Mountain Rainforest Foundation to effectively launch and maintain programmes, and to prevent any overlap.

RPJ has committed to purchase two additional trucks to assist in collecting from schools.

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