On Saturday September 21st, 2019 the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) hosted its 26th annual beach cleanup to mark International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC). Over 2,000 Jamaican volunteers including representatives of Corporate Jamaica, government agencies, service clubs, schools and other groups turned out to clean up the coast of the Palisadoes Go-Kart Track at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. Volunteers at the cleanup found everything from plastic bottles and Styrofoam containers to refrigerators and car parts. Over 21,000 pounds of garbage was collected.
In 2019 the theme for ICC Day activities in Jamaica was Big Up Wi Beach! - JET’s latest public education campaign on beaches. Although most of the garbage that washes up on Jamaica’s beaches comes from inland and not from beach users themselves, beach cleanups help to highlight the extent of Jamaica’s solid waste crisis, which is often most evident on our coastline. Garbage carelessly discarded in the streets of Jamaica makes its way down to Jamaica’s coast via rivers, gullies and drains.
ICC Day is the largest one-day volunteer event in the world. Volunteers from around the world clean up their local beaches and record data on garbage they collect. This data is used by environmental groups like JET to advocate for improved solid waste management policies and regulations. An example of such a policy is the recent ban on some single-use plastic items in Jamaica – straws, shopping bags and Styrofoam food and drink containers. In early 2020 a deposit refund scheme for plastic bottles in Jamaica is also expected. These plastic products are consistently amongst the top ten collected items collected on ICC Day in Jamaica every year. We are very interested to see whether Jamaica’s ban on certain types of single-use plastic in January this year will change the composition and quantity of waste collected on ICC Day 2019.
2019 ICC data for Jamaica is currently being tallied and official numbers will be released in a summary report towards the end of the year. Thanks to all the ICC site coordinators and volunteers for your commitment to keeping Jamaica’s beaches clean. Check out our Big Up Wi Beach Facebook page for photos from the JET Beach Cleanup. Tag us and use the hashtag #beachcleanupja2019 #bigupwibeach #nuhduttyupjamaica to share your beach cleanup photos!