Castries, September 1st ,2021. LAugust 31st 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 non-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 andincentivized Plastic Waste Collection System involving Public, Private and Local communities has been established in partnership with Gros-Islet town council, Vieux-Fort town council, the Laborie Development Foundation and CYEN. At August 31st, RePLAST-OECS has 254 trained volunteers attached to its four collection points. Hotel partners to date are Bay Gardens Resorts, Harbour Club, Coconut Bay and Hotel Chocolat.
In 21 days of operation since community collection begun in four areas, more to 65,000 lbs of plastic bottles has been collected, and effectively diverted from the Deglos Landfill. More than 41,000 ECD has been redeemed by the +1,700 registred patrons in cash value, creating livelihood opportunities for saint lucians..
Following the dispatch of two Experimental Shipments of Saint Lucia stockpile of plastics to the partnering recycling plant in Honduras in May and June 2020, the volume collected by the pilot phase is currently baled to be exported in the coming weeks by two selected recyclers, equipped and trained by the project to support commercial shipments.
LThe Initiative is now entering a period of review and assessment of the outcomes, with recommendations to guide the eventual upscaling 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 its milestones to the committed coalition of Public and Private Sector Partners, Community Partners, Volunteers and the Patrons. “From a project management perspective, having to deal with a major pandemic is the kind of challenge no project wants to have to deal with it. Yet, REPLAST OECS met its planned implementation timeline, give or take a few months lost, due to the mandatory periods of enforced nationwide protocols”, said Project Director, Shanta King. This, she went on to say, was recognized and commended by representatives of the collation of project donors in the final reporting meeting.
“Despite the economic downturn, Saint Lucian companies who truly endorse and support recycling still agreed to support the incentive programme. And despite the sobering reality of life during COVID-19, Community partners and volunteers stood up as the face of the Project, something which has been as effective as our educational outreach in motivating others to reuse and recycle plastics, said Thomas Chollet, CEO of Unite Caribbean
The pilot project of RePLAST OECS was mainly funded by the Government of France represented in Saint Lucia by the French Embassy. Additional funding was provided by development agencies GIZ, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC), Massy Stores, Heineken Saint Lucia and the Coca-Cola Company.
The period September to December shall see a review of the system to adjust and develop Phase 2. Collection activities may be reduced to fortnightly collections.
New funding streams are being pursued to support the continuation of the project in Phase 2, which can hopefully be expanded island-wide in 2022.