Did you know you can earn from recycling in Jamaica?

Well, it’s time you did know!

I know there is a great deal of cynicism about recycling in Jamaica. Is it making any impact? Is it worth the effort? And can people earn anything at all from it? I would answer “yes” to all those questions.

And if you think the idea of recycling is not catching on – well, it is in a big way, as Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) will confirm. The demand for recycling bins in communities is growing, and there is a steady increase in community clean ups and beach clean ups (and the revived Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica community network, which is so welcome, will help to raise awareness and get citizens busy).

Brandon McKoy, organiser of Trash Tournament Jamaica sits on a pile of garbage bags containing trash collected from the Kingston Harbour. Volunteer clean ups are becoming popular – and yes, of course they make a difference. (Photo: Gladstone Taylor/Gleaner)

As for the cynicism, it is always good to get citizens out there, doing stuff – and seeing for themselves. It’s a reality check. I did not realise the harm that marine litter can do to our environment until I saw Refuge Cay (more aptly named Refuse Cay), a mangrove island that had become an island of plastic in Kingston Harbour – in a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, the Palisadoes/Port Royal wetlands, which is supposed to be a Protected Area. An intrepid group of fisherfolk had set out to clear it a few years ago; I hope it has not reverted to its previous shocking state. Again, I was saddened by the discovery of a dead Glossy Ibis (a waterbird) that had become entangled in abandoned fishing gear, during one beach clean up. In fact, waterbirds such as Magnificent Frigatebirds, Egrets, Herons, and Brown Pelicans roost, breed and nest in the mangroves.

Most of the garbage that is collected in beach clean ups (this horrible sight is on land belonging to the Airports Authority of Jamaica, back in 2016) is PLASTIC. (My photo)

Unfortunately, we humans are quite good at keeping our house and yard clean; beyond that, we don’t bother. In uptown communities, residents will drive out of their gate in their nice cars every day, without paying any attention to trash scattered down their street. We have probably all seen drivers of nice cars, tossing a plastic bottle out of the window as they go for a spin in the countryside. I have personally witnessed a taxi driver taking his box lunch out of his car and carefully depositing it by the side of the road for “someone else” to clean up.

It’s depressing, at times. On a more positive, hands-on note…

Back to recycling. You can leave your bags of type 1 and type 2 plastics at any one of the many drop-off points across the island. There is a full list of locations at http://recyclingja.com. So, there is no need (no excuse) to throw your plastic bottle “away” (where is “away”?) so that it will end up in a gully, a river, or the sea, sooner or later.

Moreover, you can actually earn from recycling plastic bottles (PET or HDPE, that is 1 or 2 in that little triangle symbol at the base of the bottle). Please see below. On a technical note, these include more than just water and soda bottles. If you look at the base of the plastic item, bottles used to store chemicals, lotions, and many other products can be recycled too – and sometimes even (although not often enough!) plastic cups and other items containing takeaway foods are recyclable. Kudos to Devon House Bakery for their PET (1) drink cups and lids (and their non-plastic straws)!

So, RPJ has implemented a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) which pays $50 per kilogram for the return of plastic bottles to any of its recycling depots, located in St. Mary, St. Catherine, St. Thomas, Manchester, Westmoreland and St. James. There is also a redemption centre on Washington Boulevard in Kingston. To find all these locations, follow the link: https://recyclingja.com/drop-off-locations

RPJ also offers a collection service, free of charge. However, the DRS payment dips slightly to $48 per kilogram of plastics, when this service is used.

To benefit from the DRS, simply:

  1. Register for payment via the website, https://recyclingja.com/sign-up-for-payment
  2. Collect plastic bottles from the environment or save them in your personal space
  3. Ensure the plastic bottles collected are either PET (1) or HDPE (2). Look at the bottom for the number enclosed in a triangular symbol.
  4. Ensure the plastics are empty, not excessively dirty, shredded or breaking apart. Include the caps as well if they are available.
  5. Bag them separately from regular garbage
  6. Take the plastics to any of the depots listed on our website or call RPJ’s Logistics team at 876-528-8218 to schedule a collection.
  7. Payment will be issued on 68 kilograms (150 pounds) or more. This total can be accumulated over time. The more you recycle, the more you earn!

If you want to be an active recycler, click here.

3 thoughts on “Did you know you can earn from recycling in Jamaica?

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