AUGUST 31, 2021 marked the completion of Phase 1 of the RePLAST-OECS Pilot Plastic Recycling Project, with all key implementation targets met. Against a long-term plan to create, pilot and replicate a novel end-to-end process for plastic waste management in the Caribbean, the Project was launched in May 2019 as a not-for-profit public private initiative by the Caribbean consulting firm Unite Caribbean with Saint Lucia serving as the pioneering Pilot Country.
Implemented over a two-year period, the Pilot phase focused on research, design and testing.
A community-led and incentivized Plastic Waste Collection System involving public, private and local communities has been established in partnership with the Gros Islet Constituency Council, Vieux Fort South Constituency Council, the Laborie Development Foundation and Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN).
RePLAST-OECS trained 254 volunteers attached to its four collection points. Hotel partners to date are Bay Gardens Resorts, Harbour Club, Coconut Bay Resort and Hotel Chocolat.
In 21 days of operation since community collection began in four areas, more than 65,000 lbs of plastic bottles have been collected, and effectively diverted from the Deglos Landfill. More than EC$45,000 have been redeemed by the +1,800 registered patrons in cash value of rewards, creating livelihood opportunities for Saint Lucians.
Following the dispatch of two experimental shipments of plastics to the partnering recycling plant in Honduras in May and June 2020, the volume collected by the pilot phase is currently being baled to be exported in the coming weeks by two selected recyclers, equipped and trained by the project to support commercial shipments.
The Initiative is now entering a period of review and assessment of the outcomes, with recommendations to guide the eventual up-scaling of the system in Saint Lucia, and its replication in the OECS. This would then result in a sustainable recycling programme in Saint Lucia and the OECS Countries.
Unite Caribbean ascribes the achievement of this milestone to the committed coalition of public and private sector partners, community partners, volunteers and patrons.