Sandals Foundation helps schools replace styrofoam, single-use plastics

Sandals Foundation helps schools replace styrofoam, single-use plastics

Friday, November 15, 2019

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AHEAD of the January 1, 2020 ban on styrofoam, the Sandals Foundation has assisted six primary schools in Westmoreland replace their polystyrene foam lunch boxes and single-use plastic cups with reusable lunch containers.

Students and teachers at Ferris Primary School, Kings Primary School, Salem Primary and Junior High School, Petersville All-Age, Mernsville Primary School, and New Hope Primary and Junior High School are now fully equipped to use the sustainable meal packaging alternates, following a donation of more than 2,800 individual reusable plates, bowls, cups, containers, and utensils.

The sustainable meal packages will help students and teachers reduce and eliminate their reliance on the soon-to-be-banned disposable alternative, the foundation said.

The initiative forms one of five activities included in the 'Enhancement of the Whitehouse and Bluefields Solid Waste Reduction Project', which is executed by the Sandals Foundation with the support of Sandals South Coast hotel. The project is financed by UN Environment Programme and facilitated by the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, on behalf of their Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML-Caribe).

Bianca Young, environmental officer at Sandals Foundation, said the benefits of implementing reusable items go beyond compliance with the upcoming islandwide ban on styrofoam.

“By implementing these sustainable options, these schools will be able to improve their waste management operations, reduce the creation of waste, lessen the impact on our landfills, and reduce the potential for pollution, which is a major problem we face in Jamaica,” she said.

Principal of Ferris Primary School Tracy Campbell said the cost benefits for eliminating the purchase of styrofoam will have a significant impact on the school's budget.

“We currently spend approximately $11,000 per month on disposable containers and utensils for our students. This donation will help us incur less cost as the resources now only require for them to be washed and properly stored for use,” said the principal.

This recent donation is part of a wider educational programme that the schools are charged to implement. Each school, along with 13 others in the region, have received posters promoting the message of “reduce and reuse, zero-waste”, which was introduced at the June 2018 launch of the then 'Whitehouse and Bluefields Solid Waste Reduction Project'.

That project sought to educate and provide residents with a structured way of separating and better managing their solid waste. More than 200 bins were provided to help residents separate their plastic bottles and compost materials from regular solid waste. To date, the programme has seen the successful collection of approximately 6000 pounds of plastic bottles and over 3000 pounds of compost material.

Building on those successes, Sandals Foundation is now upgrading the waste management system in Bluefields and improving the plastic waste storage capacity in order to see more waste being transported out of the communities. A community-led and operated compost business is also being implemented.

As part of a wider regional solid waste management effort, Sandals Foundation will be going a step further by selecting schools across Caribbean islands in which they operate, to replace styrofoam and single-use plastic lunch containers with durable re-useable options.

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