On Thursday, August 6, Unite Caribbean gathered an august group of international partners, state agencies, non-governmental organisations and private sector companies to preview the system. Representing the lead partners were Minister of Physical Planning, Hon. Herod Stanislas for the Government of Saint Lucia, H.E Mr. Philippe Ardanaz, Ambassador of the Republic of France, and OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules. The project is primarily funded by the Republic of France as a co-operation project.
Other national and international stakeholder groups represented included the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Solid Waste Management Authorities in the OECS, UN Environment, Business Sector Partners and the umbrella organisations representing Tourism, Manufacturing, Civil Society Organisations. Constituency Councils, Local Development Foundations, Youth Clubs, Schools and Recyclers were also present as they are key constituents in the collection system.
Among the highlights was the presentation of key findings from a study by Accela Marketing on levels of buy-in from the market for the circular plastics economy model, and what this implies for the private sector and consumer participation. These findings also provided the basis for the design of the new incentivisation system. Stakeholders also previewed two key touchpoints of the incentivised collection system, namely the supporting online portal and a private sector-supported rewards card.
In his welcome remarks, Thomas Chollet, Cofounder and Managing Director of UNITE Caribbean noted that the sustainability and potential for replicability of the RePLAST-OECS Project lies in its design as “ an operational and results-oriented project, with real-life implementation, on-the-ground action, and communities and population involvement; and one which will create a real impact on plastic pollution in Saint Lucia”. Minister of Physical Planning Hon. Herod Stanislas delivered the feature address, during which he reiterated the government’s pledge of continued support to the implementation agency and its partners.
“Saint Lucia has been afforded the opportunity to establish a system for the collection and export of plastics, and will capture waste for diversion well beyond the RePLAST-OECS initiative. As the Deglos Landfill nears its capacity, any system which causes a diversion of plastics and any other valuable waste streams increases its life thereby deferring the need fund another landfill to the tune of millions of dollars”, the Minister said, further noting that with successful implementation, the RePLAST model “could potentially transform solid waste management in Saint Lucia”.
Upon completion of the pilot project, management of the recycling model will fall under the aegis of the Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority in collaboration with the Business Community. Along with a RePLAST rewards card, an initial six islandwide collection points will be commissioned in September and October with more to follow when hotels and schools resume normal operations. This was announced by RePLAST OECS Project Manager Shanta King. In a circular economy model, recycling keeps the value of plastics in the economy, while removing the element of pollution from the natural environment. Incentivisation is an ideal mechanism to nurture a sustainable recycling culture. To date, the project has secured committed partnership support from major businesses such as Massy Stores, Windward and Leeward Brewery, Digicel, Flow and organisations such as the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association and the St. Lucia Manufacturers Association.
About RePLAST-OECS Pilot Plastic Recycling Project
The RePLAST‒OECS Pilot Plastic Recycling Project launched in May 2019, is a two-year public-private initiative, being implemented by UNITE Caribbean and is aimed at setting-up an incentivised plastic waste collection and recycling scheme. The plastic collected will be exported to a recycling plant in the Caribbean promoting a circular economy model. The first pilot country is Saint Lucia with subsequent replication in the OECS countries.
To date, the RePLAST‒OECS Project has facilitated an experimental shipment working with local recyclers. This included two 40- foot containers of baled PET bottles of approximately 26,000 pounds (lbs). - This exported plastic waste would normally be disposed of and as a result, has increased the life of the Landfill.