St. Lucia is being used in a pilot programme that seeks to create a sustainable economic model for the management and recycling of plastic waste in the Caribbean.
The RePLAST OECS project is funded primarily by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from the St. Lucia government of Saint Lucia, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, the private sector and civil society groups here.
Senior project manager for the UNITE Caribbean St. Lucia Office, Felix Finisterre, said the project also provides an opportunity for OECS member countries to supply the EU-funded industrial plant in Martinique.
“It is intended to be a pilot project for the OECS region, targeting used PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles to be collected at the community level and then be exported to the SIDREP plant in Martinique… 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 St. Lucia, glean some lessons and best case studies and then replicate it in the other OECS countries,” he said.”
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,” 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, says it “is a situation where we can learn from each other.
“We are willing to share our best practices, and in St. Lucia there are going to be new challenges that will be faced and we can also learn from these experiences,” she said, adding “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”.