Land and water pollution have been prevalent issues which the governments in the Caribbean have been trying to address through public awareness campaigns like “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” but these prompted behaviour changes are slow in happening and are not done based on a holistic strategy. Private entities operate recycling plants to assist with sorting and minimizing waste but still the availability of designated trash receptacles are limited and type of garbage is diverse. In November 2017 and March 2018, there were major floods in the tourist area of Montego Bay, Jamaica, of which the one in November flooded out the lobby area of a five-star resort. Flooding resulted from clogged drainage systems polluted with non-biodegradable items, mainly food and drink packages. These harm marine life and even indirectly endanger human life and property as with the recent floods.
In 2016, there was a motion in the Jamaican Parliament for the banning of polystyrene food containers. The working group assigned reported in February 2018 that there are in the final stages of publication of findings for implementation. Neighbouring islands like Antigua and Barbuda have implemented the ban and importation in July 2017 on a phased basis. Amidst this, the only options for food packages available are made from styrofoam. Other Caribbean countries like Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago are following ban trend.
There is need for a sustainable, less harmful food packages alternative as the Caribbean is most vulnerable to climate change but also reliable on natural resources for economy. The problem needs to be solved from the source and not just the end means. The source lies in what consumers purchase which is food; food is encased by these polystyrene packages which is harmful to not only the environment but one’s health.
PackEco, is a business idea focused on the production and manufacture of biodegradable food containers and utensils that are environmentally friendly. This business, being a producer and manufacturer for the Caribbean region, promotes the use of environmentally friendly packaging with the use of sugarcane bagasse and wood. Edible utensils will be considered after.
The business vision is not to further harm the environment through added pollutants but utilise already existing natural items for production. This is the sugarcane bagasse available from the 3 existing sugar factories in Jamaica; 3 tonnes from every 10 tonnes of sugar is bagasse. It is sometimes used as factory biofuel and leftovers thrown away which can be up to 50%. With the existing problem for need of alternative sustainable packages, it would be the perfect option. Similar businesses exist in India and so site visits of existing operations and machinery facilities will be conducted first.
PackEco is able to offer sustainable food packages by producing and distributing food containers (6 by 6 inch and 8 by 6 inch clamshell meal boxes) made from sugar cane bagasse fibre and wood as well as cups and cutlery such as spoons, all 100% natural and biodegradable. The products would look the same in size and shape as existing food packages but have a light brown colour to differentiate it from other packages and retain its natural look without any additives.
The business will operate from its manufacturing plant headquartered in Montego Bay, Jamaica due to familiarity with potential partners, client base, low labour and production costs. Facility will be approved by Bureau of Standards Jamaica, business registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica and patent filed from Jamaica Intellectual Property Office. Items will be distributed across Jamaica, other Caribbean and Latin America countries and United Kingdom.
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