With A Clear Conscience

With a Clear Conscience

Non-profit organization Smilozone Cares tackles glass waste in Jamaica

An environmental non-profit organisation in Montego Bay, St James, has launched a nationwide campaign to address the pressing issue of glass waste in Jamaica.

The campaign, aptly named Clear Conscience, has so far collected, sorted and exported for recycling 55,000 pounds of glass waste since it was launched last month.

“Glass is an infinitely recyclable material, and by diverting it from landfills and giving it a new life we can significantly reduce our environmental impact and create opportunities,” said Carlton Bartley, executive director of the non-profit called Smilozone Cares.

Glass waste is of environmental concern due to its slow decomposition, occupying space in landfills and posing a threat to ecosystems.

The collected glass is crushed, recycled and exported to create new glass products, and a portion of the waste will go towards upcycling initiatives locally such as the creation of underwater sculptures at marine parks to create marine habitat, which will aid in coral reef restoration.

In the current stage of the campaign Smilozone Cares is partnering with north coast hotels for glass collection, as the tourism industry produces a significant amount of glass waste.

The collection facility, located at Ironshore Industrial Park in St James, employs six recycling technicians on a full-time basis and up to five people part-time who work at the Retirement landfill picking up materials.

“With the completion of our first major milestone — the exportation of 55,000 pounds of glass waste — Clear Conscience is making a significant impact on glass waste reduction and the conservation of natural resources,” Bartley noted. “By repurposing glass we are conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping build a circular economy.”

Marketing and PR director of Smilozone Cares, Michael Thomas revealed some of the challenges involved in executing an initiative of this nature.

“The biggest barrier we are facing is just the initial pushback of ‘Why are we doing this?’ ” Thomas said. “So the knowledge barrier is the biggest hurdle but usually after one explanation they [understand]

“Operationally now, it’s a little tricky,” he said. “Because for one, the glass we are sending out to the glass manufacturer, they need to be sorted. The caps need to be off. The metal rings need to be off. The bottles need to be crushed, and we don’t exactly have all the perfect equipment for it right now. So, operationally, just the process of sorting the bottles, crushing them, that has been a little challenging but we are figuring out the best processes and the best techniques as we grow and as we move on,” he said.

Thomas explained that these operations are not commercially viable and so the non-profit organisation seeks grants, government support, partnerships, and sponsors to keep them running and to purchase more advanced equipment.

“We have a small crusher,” he disclosed. “Our partners, luckily, have crushers in their facilities but a lot of it right now is being done manually — like those six people who are employed, a lot of their big task is sorting and crushing glass,” he said.

The campaign has received support from two hotels, and the organisation is finalising agreements with them as sponsors.

The marketing and PR director reports that the feedback from hotels and tourism organisations has been positive. The hotels have shown receptivity to the glass recycling programme, partly due to pressure from parent organisations and their commitment to corporate social responsibility.

As it expands around Jamaica and establishes additional collection points, the campaign will target not only hotels but also other businesses producing or selling glass — including bars, restaurants, supermarkets, and any other glass-related industries like construction and manufacturing.

Additionally, the project is setting a target to divert at least 10,000,000 pounds of glass waste away from landfills and ecosystems within the first year.

Through an intensive educational awareness campaign and developing a formal infrastructure that provides convenient drop-off locations or collection services, Clear Conscience aims to create job opportunities at its collection and sorting facilities and to sort glass waste dumped in local landfills and other areas.

“We’re on a mission to revolutionise recycling in Jamaica,” Thomas said. “It’s not just about recycling glass; it’s about igniting a change in mindset. By promoting the idea of sustainability and responsible waste management we aim to inspire a generation that sees recycling not as an obligation but as an opportunity to safeguard our beautiful island home.”

As part of the Clear Conscience campaign, Smilozone Cares leverages its social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram to recruit individuals, businesses, and communities to its I Care movement.

With a Clear Conscience


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