Ahead of the January 1, 2020 ban on Styrofoam, the Sandals Foundation has assisted six primary schools in Westmoreland to replace their polystyrene foam lunch boxes and single-use plastic cups with reusable lunch containers.

Students and teachers at the Ferris Primary School, Kings Primary School, Salem Primary and Junior High School, Petersville All-Age, Mernsville Primary School, and New Hope Primary and Junior High School are now fully equipped to use the sustainable meal packaging alternates following a donation of over 2800 individual reusable plates, bowls, cups, containers, and utensils.

Environmental Officer for the Sandals Foundation, Bianca Young makes a point to students at Ferris Primary School moments after presenting them with reusable lunch containers for their school lunch programme. Looking on is a pleased Tracy Campbell (right), principal for Ferris Primary.

The sustainable meal packages will help students and teachers reduce and eliminate their reliance on the soon-to-be-banned disposable alternative.

The initiative forms one of five activities included in the “Enhancement of the Whitehouse and Bluefields Solid Waste Reduction Project”, which is executed by the Sandals Foundation with the support of Sandals South Coast Hotel.  The project is financed by UN Environment and facilitated by the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute on behalf of their Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML-Caribe).

Bianca Young, Environmental Officer of the Sandals Foundation says the benefits of implementing reusable items go beyond compliance with the upcoming island-wide ban on Styrofoam.

“By implementing these sustainable options, these schools will be able to improve their waste management operations, reduce the creation of waste, lessen the impact on our landfills, and reduce the potential for pollution, which is a major problem we face in Jamaica.”

Students at New Hope Primary and Junior High pause for a photo with their new reusable lunch containers presented by the Sandals Foundation.

Principal of Ferris Primary School, Tracy Campbell says the cost benefits for eliminating the purchase of Styrofoam will have a significant impact on the school’s budget.

“We currently spend approximately J$11,000.00 per month on disposable containers and utensils for our students. This donation will help us incur less cost as the resources now only require for them to be washed and properly stored for use.”

This recent donation is part of a wider educational programme that the schools are charged to implement. Each school, along with 13 others in the region, have received posters promoting the message of “reduce and reuse, zero-waste” which was introduced in June 2018 at the launch of the then “Whitehouse and Bluefields Solid Waste Reduction Project”.

That project sought to educate and provide residents with a structured way of separating and better managing their solid waste. More than 200 bins were provided to help residents separate their plastic bottles and compost materials from regular solid waste. To date, the programme has seen the successful collection of approximately 6000 pounds of plastic bottles and over 3000 pounds of compost material.

Members of the Mernsville Primary and Junior High School culinary and teaching teams receiving their donation of reusables from Sandals Foundation Environmental Officer, Bianca Young (left) and Marine Warden, Terrell Powell (2nd left).

Building on those successes, the Sandals Foundation is now upgrading the waste management system in Bluefields and improving the plastic waste storage capacity in order to see more waste being transported out of the communities. A community-led and operated compost business is also being implemented.

As part of a wider regional solid waste management effort, the Sandals Foundation will be going a step further by selecting schools across the Caribbean islands in which they operate, to replace Styrofoam and single-use plastic lunch containers with durable re-usable options.

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