The Jamaica National Group has launched a pilot of a plastic recycling programme among its employees as it aims to collect 530,000 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles over the next 12 months. PET bottles include soda and water bottles and other soft drink bottles.

Omar Wright, lead, Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation, in announcing the initiative said that the programme is part of a much larger initiative under the JN Group’s Environmental Sustainability Programme, which is a five-year initiative, targeted at reducing deforestation, strengthening waste management, and promoting water conservation and energy efficiency.

“This initiative is an acceptance of our responsibility to limit not only our negative impact on the environment as much as possible, but to demonstrate that the private sector also has a leadership role to play in achieving environmental sustainability in our country and in our global village,” he said.

“We must support the continued promotion of environmental awareness and practice in Jamaica to ensure the economic and social wellbeing of all our people – both present and future,” he added.

Kimberly Gardner, marketing relations officer at the JN Group said the initiative will start at four  JN Group locations and will be expanded.

In partnership with JN Properties, a member company of the JN Group and janitorial and property services company, EnviroTech, labelled recycle bins have been placed strategically in these locations to facilitate collection of PET bottles for recycling.

The bottles will then be transported to Recycle Partners of Jamaica, where a percentage of the proceeds gained from the bottles will be donated to ‘Funds to Fuel a Nation’, a project of the JN Foundation, which provides financial support to the Mustard Seed Communities and educational support to children.

“We invite all employees of The Jamaica National Group to support this initiative. Let us play our part in protecting the environment,” she said during the launch.

“Let us practise the 3Rs – ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ Space in our landfill and dumps are limited, and the conditions in these spaces make it nearly impossible for anything, including plastic, to biodegrade. Recycling plastic water bottles helps to conserve space that can be used for other waste. Recycling can also help reduce the number of plastic water bottles that end up as litter in roadways and water sources,” she added.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, an estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow into the world’s oceans every year with experts warning this may triple by 2040.

In Jamaica, plastic accounts for approximately 15 per cent of waste, with the vast majority of it being PET bottles. Jamaica produces 800 million PET bottles annually, and as of September 2019, only 20 per cent this waste has been collected.