BY LUKE DOUGLAS Environment Watch senior reporter email@example.com
DIFFERENT companies and governments have for years promised to establish facilities to turn the solid waste generated in the country's main dumps into useful products.
Canadian company Panther Corporation is the latest to say it will start such a recycling effort and soon — beginning with the four western parishes, notably Hanover, Westmoreland, St James, and Trelawny.
Head of the company, Michael Mosgrove, said he has committed nearly $28 million to the project, a figure that could balloon to as much as $50 million and may provide as many as 5,000 people with direct or indirect employment.
"We're working with the general public, all the business and communities in Jamaica. We're taking everything from paper to plastic to medical waste to food waste and turning them into products we can reuse, resell or reclaim," Mosgrove told Environment Watch.
Products to be manufactured from waste here in Jamaica include plastic sheeting and posts useful for making patio furniture or beach chairs, diesel fuel for motor vehicles and compost, Mosgrove explained.
"There could be one manufacturing base in each parish to support one of the products we want to make," he said.
For example, a plant in Westmoreland will be equipped with a grinder, extruder and an extraction device to process plastic bottles and other plastic products, and from which the plastic sheeting and parts could be developed.
Another facility in Trelawny will be used to produce diesel fuel from plastic, Mosgrove said.
Panther Corporation will be strategically located about one mile from the Retirement garbage facility in St James and will have ready access to the waste going there.
Commenting on the possibility of making plastic furniture from waste, Mosgrove said this would be of particular interest to the tourism industry.
"If you put these plastic desk chairs on the beach down in Negril or Montego Bay, they are not going to deteriorate as quickly as cedar board will," he said. "It takes 270 years for each sheet of plastic to break down, so it can last as long as you want it to."
Persons who could be employed in the sorting facility include "truck drivers working routes to service representatives working with commercial accounts, to telemarketing persons in our office", Mosgrove elaborated.
The company does not envisage any objections from Government.
"The only licence we are required to have is from the National Solid Waste Management Agency. They know what we are doing and I don't think we're going to have any problems with that," he said.
Mosgrove addeds that he was to meet with the St James Parish Council yesterday to finalise start-up activities, with a view to commencing recycling as soon as next week.
Panther Corporation has its headquarters in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.