JET Releases Results of International Coastal Cleanup Day Jamaica 2018: A Quarter of a Million Plastic Bottles Collected!

At the risk of boring my readers, may I remind you that I am still in recovery mode – struggling up the hill towards the complete fitness of my right wrist. It seems a little like Sisyphus at times (you know, the guy who keeps rolling the rock uphill only to have it slip down again) – except that my wrist isn’t strong enough to roll rocks. Or rock and roll.  

Keeping note of the trash collected at Producer Beach in St. Thomas. (Photo: JET)

I don’t know where I am going with this, except to say that I have been so hopelessly off the radar that I am just trying to catch up on some pieces of news. So, I am belatedly sharing this update from Jamaica Environment Trust. I think it is important information for us to digest, as we engage the Great Plastic Monster in battle.

At the Palisadoes GoKart Track. (Photo: JET)

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has released the results of last year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day activities in Jamaica. On ICC Day 2018 – Saturday, September 15, 9,332 ICC volunteers removed over 102,000 pounds of garbage from Jamaica’s coastline. Plastic beverage bottles continued to top the list of items collected on ICC Day in 2018 – over 250,000 plastic beverage bottles were collected.

JET has been national coordinators of International Coastal Cleanup Day in Jamaica since 2008. See below message from CEO of JET, Suzanne Stanley:

On September 17, 2018 – two days after International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day – the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) announced a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, single-use plastic straws and Styrofoam food and drink containers starting January 1, 2019. This long-awaited action on single-use plastic from the GOJ comes after decades of environmental education and advocacy by JET on Jamaica’s solid waste crisis – much of which has surrounded our coordination of ICC Day in Jamaica. The new bans on single-use plastic products tackle plastic pollution at its source – removing several types of non-biodegradable packaging from the Jamaican market and waste stream. ICC tackles plastic pollution at a different point in Jamaica’s waste stream – after it has travelled many miles from inland via gullies, drains and rivers and has washed up on our coastline, a temporary resting place before it floats out to sea.

At the ICC Cleanup in Annotto Bay, St. Mary. (Photo: JET)

At no time is Jamaica’s plastic problem more evident than on ICC Day, when thousands of Jamaican volunteers traverse our coastline, collecting hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage – most of which is single-use plastic and Styrofoam.

ICC 2018 marked JET’s 25th annual cleanup along the Palisadoes Strip. It was the first time JET had hosted a cleanup on the Kingston Harbour side of the Strip – at the Palisadoes Go-Kart Track. In just under three hours, 1,700 volunteers at JET’s flagship ICC cleanup had cleared what would amount to seven truckloads of garbage from the coast of the Go-Kart Track. The thousands of pounds of garbage originate in the streets, drains and gullies of Kingston, where it is carelessly discarded or illegally dumped. All it takes is a heavy afternoon downpour to wash Kingston’s garbage into the Kingston Harbour where it floats across to the Palisadoes coastline. But Jamaica’s garbage crisis is not isolated to our capital city. Across the island garbage litters our countryside, tour roadways and our beaches, threatening Jamaica’s natural environment, public health and our economy.

“Wall to wall” trash at the Palisadoes GoKart Track near Norman Manley International Airport. I saw this myself a few years ago on a tour with JET. It’s mind-boggling. (Photo: JET)

The unwavering support of JET’s local partners (Tourism Enhancement Fund, Recycling Partners of Jamaica, Jamaica Energy Partners and Norman Manley International Airport) and the thousands of volunteers who turn out to clean up Jamaica’s coastline for ICC Jamaica each year, is testament to increased public awareness of Jamaica’s garbage crisis, and an encouraging sign that as a country we are becoming more committed to keep wi island clean. The ban on single-use plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam is one part of the solution to our plastic problem. Moving forward, citizen action on Jamaica’s plastic problem must extend beyond ICC Day – we must all take responsibility for our garbage and make a personal commitment to Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica.

The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has been a major sponsor of International Coastal Cleanup Day in Jamaica since 2008. See below message from Executive Director of TEF, Dr Carey Wallace:

Since its inception over thirty years ago, the International Coastal Cleanup Day has played an essential role in the preservation of the environment and for this, we are very grateful.

The sustainability and strengthening of Jamaica’s tourism product are of paramount importance to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and we commend the Jamaica Environment Trust for being the National Co-ordinators of this initiative since 2008.

Volunteers at Wickie Wackie Beach, St. Andrew. Nuff work to do! (Photo: JET)

TEF is proud to be a major partner of this programme, which has proven to be a resounding success over the years. I implore all Jamaicans to get on board to safeguard our beautiful island, Jamaica.

***The complete 2018 International Coastal Cleanup Day Jamaica report can be found at the following link:***  The “Top 10” items collected were (in order of volume): plastic beverage bottles; plastic bottle caps; foam pieces; plastic pieces; plastic bags; foam cups and plates; food wrappers; plastic cups and plates; glass beverage bottles; and takeout containers (foam). The 101 local partners are also listed – and thanked!

Huge congratulations to JET, partners, sponsors – and not forgetting the toiling volunteers! Save the date for this year’s cleanup: Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Cleaning up at Alligator Pond in Manchester. (Photo: JET)

4 thoughts on “JET Releases Results of International Coastal Cleanup Day Jamaica 2018: A Quarter of a Million Plastic Bottles Collected!

    1. The “plastic ban” is certainly a long term project, but hopefully we will start to see some positive results in the next few years. I think we will, because many are taken the issue more seriously…

      Liked by 1 person

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