Sandals Resorts International in association with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Oceanic Global and the University of Kassel staged an all-day Waste Management Networking Workshop recently at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.
The workshop, under the theme, “Building Capacity and Reducing Waste in the Hospitality Sector” was the brainchild of Sandals’ Group Environment Health and Safety Manager, Christine Young, with the aim of building waste management networks in the tourism sector and finding creative and innovative ways for waste disposal.
“Waste management is a challenge for small-island developing states like Jamaica and as such, the need exists to engage various stakeholders to discuss the very real challenges, identify best practices and devise a way forward regarding the issue,” Young said.
Waste management is important in the preservation of biodiversity especially the marine environment. The tourism sector contributes significantly the waste volume on the island. This includes suppliers and manufacturers that provide goods to tourism based entities.
With a host of speakers and presenters ranging from professors, recycle artists, ocean conservation experts and recycling companies, the forum’s over 30 participants were kept informed and engaged on a variety of topics including food waste and sustainability, top ten tips on a good waste management programme, targeted research on behaviour and waste management, the effects of waste on the marine environment and creative uses of recycled materials. There were also group activities encouraging networking, sharing of ideas and crafting creative solutions to different waste management challenges faced by the sector. Since last year Sandals Resorts International announced a ban on plastic straws and the elimination of Styrofoam from its resorts and is actively exploring further opportunities to eliminate other plastics across its resorts.
Young further shared with the audience that noted Professor Ralf Wagner and PhD student Katharina Raab from the University of Kassel were specially invited as keynote speakers based on their previous work relating to waste management and behaviour in the other Caribbean islands. Cassia Patel of Oceanic Global was another keynote speaker who outlined the Oceanic Global standards for a plastic-free environment.
Professor Wagner and Miss Raab highlighted findings of recent Caribbean-based studies which cemented the fact that more needs to be done regarding the disposal of waste in the region. The professors however also revealed that over 30% of the respondents to the study agreed that as individuals, they can do more to assist in the disposal of waste while another 30% said they would try to do more toward waste management.
Recycle Artist, Toby Grant, in his presentation highlighted several creative ways to utilise recycled materials to create everyday use items. Grant’s company, Jamaica Artistic Movement of Youth and Humanity (JAMYAH) International encourages the creative re-use of waste. He noted that the company’s focus played a dual role as not only does it encourage re-use of waste but it also keeps the youths’ minds engaged about creative ways to recycled waste material.
Carol Lue, founder and executive director of Caribshare Biogas shared ways in which her company plays their part in reusing waste material. “The main operation of Caribshare Biogas is to harness energy from organic waste from hotels within the region. Through this partnership, Caribshare has successfully provided biogas to several hotels, thus reducing the impact of the waste on the hotel industry.”
Other presenters included Richard Campbell of Jamaica Recycles and Edmund Carr of the National Solid Waste Management Authority who provided insightful statistics on waste in Jamaica.
Young expressed that this workshop has always been a dream of hers. “Finding new and innovative ways to manage waste as tourism based entities in the Caribbean has always been a hope of mine. This workshop is just the first step in achieving this goal. The networks that were formed here I have no doubt will transcend into new management techniques and participants will now have a consolidated voice.” She went on to thank all the stakeholders who participated in making this first ever event a success and shared her desire for more events of this nature in the future.
Other entities or organisations in attendance at the interactive session included hotels such as Couples Negril, Swept Away, Grand Bahia Principe, Moon Palace Resort, National Environment and Planning Authority – Pollution Prevention Unit; Caribbean Producers Jamaica, Wray & Nephew, Appleton Rum Tour Experience, WISYNCO, HEART Trust and several academic institutions.