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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — The deposit refund scheme, which will provide cash to consumers who return their plastic bottles, is to be operational early in the 2019/20 financial year.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz, made the disclosure during a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The forthcoming scheme is intended to reduce littering and encourage recycling.
“The deposit refund scheme will allow for the application of a deposit on plastic bottles placed on the market and a cash rebate to the consumer on the return of these bottles to designated redemption centres across the island,” Vaz said.
“This scheme will be implemented by a reconstituted Recycling Partners Jamaica Limited,” he added.
He told the House that participating members of the private sector have instituted a self-imposed cess of $1 per bottle, to start, which will see an initial private-sector investment of $850 million in the first year.
Vaz said the funds will be used to establish collection points, purchase trucks to increase collection capacity, and fund an expanded education campaign.
He said there is a proposal to move the $1 deposit per bottle to $3 deposit per bottle by September 2019.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his contribution to the 2018/19 Budget Debate, had announced the Administration’s intention to support the proposal for the deposit refund scheme submitted by the private sector.
The Government has charged private-sector partners to ensure that the scheme is fully operationalised early in the 2019/20 financial year; that the requisite infrastructure is in place to facilitate effective implementation, including the siting of redemption centres to allow for ease of return of bottles by consumers; and that a plastic bottle recovery rate of at least 85 per cent is achieved within the first four years of implementation.
Additionally, the deposit refund scheme must be supported by a comprehensive and sustained national public education and awareness programme.
“The Government will monitor the implementation of the deposit refund scheme to ensure accountability and transparency, and if deemed necessary, promulgate legislation to govern the scheme. Unrefunded deposits will be used to maintain the deposit refund scheme as well as provide support to the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) in its efforts to improve the island’s waste management infrastructure,” Vaz said.
He told the House that plastic bottles, once collected, present an excellent opportunity for recyclers to catalyse economic activity, particularly at the micro and small levels, by designing and producing products for local and regional consumption.
Plastics, by their chemical characteristics, take decades, in some cases thousands of years, to degrade in the environment.
Hence, collection of plastics for disposal at landfills is not a sustainable solution in the longterm, particularly for small island developing states such as Jamaica, where land is a scarce and extremely valuable resource.
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