Destination Zero Waste Jamaica

The absence of a recycling culture in Jamaica leads to a considerable pile-up of solid waste in local landfills. This results in the accumulation of thousands of metric tonnes of recyclable materials, occupying valuable space in already limited landfill areas. A 2022 Waste Characterisation Study conducted by the Development Bank of Jamaica, revealed that the country generates around 52,000 tonnes of glass waste and 248,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, with a substantial portion of that waste generated by the tourism industry. Plastic recycling has been encouraged in recent years but remains a challenge. Glass poses a pressing environmental concern, since it is slow to decompose and occupies valuable space in the landfills.

Through close collaboration with key stakeholders in the tourism industry, Destination Zero Waste Jamaica creates a robust network for the collection of glass and plastic materials. It also puts in place initiatives to raise public awareness and establishes a dedicated recycling and upcycling centre. This multi-faceted strategy aims to substantially decrease the volume of waste ending up in the landfill and instil a sense of environmental stewardship in young people. It also trains local people from economically disadvantaged communities in upcycling activities, enhancing livelihoods and contributing to overall environmental sustainability.

Tourism activities in Montego Bay, Jamaica, contribute significantly to the generation of plastic and glass waste and due to limited recycling opportunities, a substantial portion of this waste ends up in landfills.  This is exacerbated by inadequate waste management practices by some residents that create ecological challenges, such as coastal and marine pollution and illegal dumping.

Destination Zero Waste Jamaica addresses both the environmental issue of waste management and the socio-economic challenge of youth unemployment in economically disadvantaged communities of Montego Bay, where many young people in the city live in high-risk communities characterised by a lack of economic opportunities. It recognises that up to 42% of annually generated plastic waste is recyclable and that glass, being infinitely recyclable, holds considerable potential for reuse.

The programme establishes an upcycling centre in Montego Bay which serves as a creative hub for up to 80 people from marginalised communities, who receive training on how to turn discarded glass and plastics into marketable products and enhance their earning ability.

Destination Zero Waste Jamaica also develops a recycling and waste collection network for glass and plastics. This involves engaging almost 30 tourism businesses, schools and communities to promote the separation of glass and plastics and establishing dedicated collection points. The programme is expected to collect around seven million kilos of plastic and glass waste.

It also promotes environmental awareness and education for tourism businesses, tourists, communities and schools. Environmental sustainability clubs in 50 schools teach children about responsible waste management, alongside a group of volunteers who oversee and drive the collection of recyclables in their schools and communities.

Tourism and hospitality businesses benefit from education and training workshops on waste reduction, recycling and the environmental advantages of adopting green practices. Brochures, informational signage and resources promoting sustainable tour options also encourage tourists to think and act more environmentally. Interactive scavenger hunt games and tours to the upcycling centre also encourage responsible waste management and the local community residents benefit from public awareness campaigns about responsible waste disposal and recycling.


Smilozone Cares based in Montego Bay, St. James is a non-profit organisation founded in 2020 that is dedicated to the sustainable environmental development of Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region. Their vision is to promote a sustainable future by reducing, repurposing and reusing waste.

They strive to make a positive impact on society and the environment through initiatives that focus on recycling, green jobs and creating more sustainable communities. Their hope is to create an eco-system for innovative solutions to the growing waste management challenges faced by society.

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