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Here’s How a Portmore Community Has Been Leading the Local Fight Against Plastic Pollution For The Last Decade

by Stephanie Koathes Feb 11, 2019

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Moving through any given street around the island you’re likely to see plastic bottles lying by the roadside.

Plastic bottles, bags, utensils, they’re in our gullies, bushes, and on the sidewalk. Plastic waste isn’t just an eyesore; these improperly discarded items are a danger to our environment.

The government of Jamaica placed a ban on plastic bags and single-use plastics that came into effect at the beginning of 2019. However, the community of Silverstone in Portmore, St Catherine, has been fighting against plastic pollution for the past decade.

The Silverstone Citizens Association started recycling plastics and tins in 2009.

“The recycling project started when my daughter who was attending St. Hugh’s High School for Girls got a project for homework,” shared the association’s president, Audrey Douglas.

“She became very passionate about the environment and I equally so.  While at Sagicor Life where I worked, I saw an email sent to my then Vice President introducing us to the company that was doing recycling in Jamaica.”

Douglas decided to reach out to the company, Protect the Environment Trust (PET), a non-governmental organisation that operated out of Riverton, for help with a community recycling project.

“I made contact with Del and D’Arcy Crooks [PET’s directors] and immediately started the community project.”

Recycling collection point in Silverstone.

Silverstone’s recycling project ran into a roadblock when Del and D’Arcy Crooks discontinued PET.  The community was determined to keep their project going.

“We had difficulty finding another company that would collect the recycle,” she admitted. “But we refused to give up.”

Then, the Silverstone Citizens’ Association reached out to Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) for help to continue their green efforts.  While RPJ was able to assist the community, at the time, the residents had to deliver the bottles themselves.

“This was a challenge, but a community member with a truck then offered to do the drop-off.  We have since partnered with them over the last three years, and we make a call whenever a pick up is required.   Recycling Partners now collects our plastic waste,” Douglas relayed.

With new recycling partners in place, the residents have coordinated to maintain a smooth recycling operation.

Residents are encouraged to separate their waste and take their plastic items to the designated area in the community park. There are also community members who volunteer to do clean-ups of the verges and deposit the debris at the community park.

Residents cleaning the verges.

“It has helped greatly as our community is cleaner.  We have not reached to all residents, but we have people coming from other community to deposit at our designated area. We are passionate about this and hope to get 100% compliance by all residents,” Douglas affirmed.

The admirable efforts of the Silverstone Citizens’ Association show just how much every community can achieve.

As the historian, playwright and activist Howard Zinn said: “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world.”

If you want to learn more about how you can reduce plastic usage, have a look at our article showing 12 easy ways to cut down on plastics.