My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: CARPI Taxation and Recycling Partners of Jamaica Bottle Deposit Scheme will eliminate Plastics by 2025

Sunday, July 1, 2018

CARPI Taxation and Recycling Partners of Jamaica Bottle Deposit Scheme will eliminate Plastics by 2025

“We are providing financial support to Recycling Partners of Jamaica – a private sector-led initiative towards the island wide collection and export of plastic bottles under the Housing Opportunities Production and Employment (HOPE) programme,”

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz on the allocation of JA$75 million to the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign

World Ocean Day, which is celebrated on June 8th of each year, will never be the same again in Jamaica.

That's because the Government of Jamaica has partnered with Recycling Partners of Jamaica to set up a plastic bottle deposit scheme as reported in the article “Gov't Allocates $75m For Plastic Bottle Buy-Back Scheme”, published Sunday June 10, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner. 

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This announcement was made by minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz on June 8 at the World Oceans Day event dubbed ‘Save Our Sea’.

Hosted by Conservation Through Education Jamaica at the Urban Development Corporation’s (UDC) Orange Park in downtown Kingston, World Oceans Day aims to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help to protect it.

The Government, in collaboration with United Nations (UN) Environment and the Government of Japan, was also working on a plastic minimization project to reduce and manage plastic marine litter. This is mainly from Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics which includes:

1.      Plastic bags
2.      Straws
3.      Soda
4.      Water bottles
5.      Food packaging

This JA$75 million will be spread over a three year period and will be used by the Recycling Partners of Jamaica to basically pay Jamaicans to collect and return plastic bottle.

Hopefully, that will translate to JA$100 per bottle as the environment is that important as noted in my blog article entitled “How JA$100 for recycling 500ml Plastic bottles and Styrofoam Ban will save Jamaica's Environment”.

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However, CAPRI (Caribbean Policy Research Institute) believes taxation of manufacturers and retailers usage of plastic bottles, bags and styrofoam products will have a better effect on the environment than an outright ban as noted in the article “Think Tank Favours Taxation Over Plastic Ban”, Published Friday December 8, 2017 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner

So which policy is best: ban or taxation? And will a bottle deposit fee run by Recycling Partners of Jamaica make a difference in Jamaica?

Recycling Partners of Jamaica – JA$100 per 500ml bottle Plastic bottle deposit scheme

Recycling Partners of Jamaica, more popularly known for their “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign”, have already collected some 1.3 million pounds of plastic waste for export since November 2016.

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A plastic bottle deposit scheme is necessary, as Jamaicans use and dispose of almost one billion PET bottles annually. That translates to some 350 bottles per Jamaican each year. But that's been through voluntary collection using their colorful bins that have the slogan Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica as well as encouraging Jamaicans via advertising to turn in their plastic waste.

Now they are basically resorting to money, with the idea being that a value should be placed on plastic bottles so that Jamaicans have an incentive to return them.

This makes sense, as the same is already true for Glass Bottles. Already Red Stripe has a Glass Bottle Return Program that allows bottle collectors to make money from collecting glass bottles as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How Jamaicans can make money from collecting Red Stripe Bottles”.

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So JA$100 per 500ml bottle is more than enough value to encourage Jamaicans to return plastic bottles that have been collected from the environment. 

Especially seeing as it costs the NSWMA (National Solid Waste Management Authority) and the PWD (Public Works Department) more money to remove them from the environment when they clog drains. It could potentially be a source of income rivaling even scrap metal, if it is incentivized in this way.

But what about plastic bottles sold by retailers, plastic Bags and styrofoam containers, the so-called single use plastic? Should there be a tax on their usage to prevent them from entering the environment in the first place?

CARPI and Plastic in Jamaica - Fee not Ban and DRS is required

A ban on the production and usage PETE Plastic, Styrofoam and single use Plastic would create a lot of resistance, as alternatives are expensive.

CAPRI (Caribbean Policy Research Institute) is therefore recommending a tax be charged on the sale of plastic bags by retailers to consumers, gradually changing behaviour over time as noted in the article “CAPRI | Reducing 'Scandal' Bag Use In Jamaica: Ban Or Fee? - Denmark First Country To Tax Plastic Bags”, published Monday February 5, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner

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Evidence of the effectiveness of Fee vs Ban can be seen when by comparing the reaction to Ban on plastic bag usage in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Kenya vs Retailers charging a Fee as was the case in Denmark and Ireland. 

Good to note these are actions in Third World or Developing Countries with little taxation oversight and rampant corruption vs First world Countries that can easily implement, manage and collect a fee on plastic Bags, thereby modifying their populations behaviour.

Alternatives can also be provided by retailers, making them thing to avoid the fees by investing in a reusable container as noted in the article “CAPRI | Towards Eliminating 'Scandal' Bags”, Published Monday November 27, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

CARPI recommends the following:

1.      Large retailers be required by law to charge consumers at the point of sale for all single-use plastic bags under 24''x36''
2.      Report annually on number of bags distributed and profits from the charges
3.      Extensive stakeholder consultation and public awareness campaigns be carried out prior to implementation
4.      Reduction targets to be set and fees revised upward each year.

As it relates to plastic bottles, CARPI is recommending a DRS or Deposit refund scheme as described in the article “CAPRI | Solving The Plastic Bottle Crisis”, Published Monday April 30, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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A DRS for plastic bottles involves the payment of a sum of money by the consumer when he/she purchases a drink in a plastic bottle. Once this bottle is returned, the deposit is refunded fully. This acts as an incentive for consumers to return their bottles to designated collection points to get their refund.

It also makes centralized collection for recycling of the bottles easier and is where the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign plastic bottle deposit scheme would come into play.

In summary, the JA$75 million is best spend on a DRS at the retailers combined with a JA$100 Plastic Bottle return scheme for plastic collected from the environment. Combined with a fee on the use of single use plastic, Jamaica would be free of single use plastic by 2025.

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