OECS initiative to boost plastic waste recycling
Friday, August 9, 2019
by GIS

Environmental stakeholders from the public and private sectors in Saint Lucia lent their support and expertise toward the successful launch and two-day workshop for the RePLAST OECS project, an initiative that seeks to create a sustainable economic model for the management and recycling of plastic waste in the Caribbean.

The two-year pilot project, implemented by UNITE Caribbean, will be carried out in Saint Lucia and will focus on testing approaches and systems for setting up a plastic waste collection and recycling scheme through export from Saint Lucia to Martinique.

Senior Project Manager for the UNITE Caribbean Saint Lucia Office, Felix Finisterre, highlighted the opportunity for OECS islands to supply the EU-funded industrial plant in Martinique.

“It is intended to be a pilot project for the OECS region, targeting used PET bottles to be collected at the community level and then be exported to the SIDREP plant in Martinique. Just 33kilometres away in Martinique there’s a SIDREP plant which is operating way below capacity and this is because of a shortfall in the supply of raw materials – even though they are collecting all the PET bottles from the French Antilles of Martinique, French Guiana and Guadeloupe. The idea is to pilot this project for the next two years in Saint Lucia, glean some lessons and best case studies and then replicate it in the other OECS countries.”

Head of the OECS Environmental Sustainability Cluster, Chamberlain Emmanuel, reiterated the growing concern of plastic pollution and commended the OECS initiative as it seeks to provide the region with an avenue to responsibly manage and dispose of plastic waste.

“The issue of plastic pollution is one that concerns all of our member states, and of course, the Commission is always looking for opportunities and mean to help our member states with their priorities,” Mr Emmanuel said. “We have an opportunity with the RePLAST Project to be able to design a template to allow Member States to work from the collection of plastic to the recycling of plastic and to capitalise on the recycling plant that is available in Martinique, engage NGOs and CBOs.”

Business Development Officer at the National Solid Waste Management Authority in Antigua and Barbuda, Jennifer Joseph, shared her experience as a part of the plastic bag and polystyrene ban process in Antigua and Barbuda and reviewed several lessons learned during the workshop.

“It is a situation where we can learn from each other. We are willing to share our best practices, and in Saint Lucia there are going to be new challenges that will be faced and we can also learn from these experiences. I really think the workshop is a good start. Many of the issues that we would have anticipated in Antigua, a lot of them have been overcome already and now, it is just a matter of implementation.”

The RePLAST OECS project is funded primarily by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its Saint Lucia-based Embassy to the OECS and Barbados, with support from the Government of Saint Lucia, the OECS Commission, the private sector and civil society in Saint Lucia.