11 February 2010

Ghana: Finding a Solution to Plastic Waste Menace

The Daily Graphic reported in its yesterday edition that the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST) has promised that a solution will soon be found to the environmental menace posed by plastic waste in the country.

This comes as refreshing news to all Ghanaians, since the devastating effects of the haphazard plastic waste disposal cannot be lost on us.

Over the years, plastics have become a cheaper and more efficient way of packaging food.

However, the reckless disposal of these plastics, which are non-biodegradable, has contributed in the choking of drains and polluting of our beaches. The scourge of the plastic waste seems to have grown out of hand and overwhelmed the various Municipal, Metropolitan and District assemblies.

The choked drains caused by the plastic waste results in flooding whenever it rains, leading to the destruction of lives and properties.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has stated that plastic water sachets alone account for some 85 percent of total refuse generated by the city's inhabitants.

Perhaps, the Vice President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, might have chosen the easy way out, when he declared, in a brief remark in March last year, that the government might place a ban on the use of non-biodegradable plastics, as part of measures to nip the plastic waste management canker in the bud.

This was during the first-ever National Environmental Sanitation Forum held at the Accra International Conference Centre. The forum was supposed to have come out with a communiqué and a blueprint on dealing with the sanitation challenges of the country, which The Chronicle is still expecting to be made public to Ghanaians.

In 2004, Unilever Ghana was reported to have supplied some 21,000 tonnes of plastic waste to recycling businesses in Accra to be turned into flower pots and other plastic products.

There are some recycling plants in Ghana which produce bags, belts, and hats, among others, from waste plastics. These initiatives are supposed to provide employment and a source of revenue for people, and also to help reduce the amount of plastic waste sent to the refuse dumps, which will lead to cleaner environments.

It is in the light of the above, that The Chronicle is gladdened by the announcement by the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology in the Daily Graphic of yesterday, that the government was collaborating with a multi-national recycling company to convert plastic waste into machine oil, which can be used to lubricate industrial equipment.

This idea is also supposed to add value to the plastic waste, create employment, and reduce environmental hazards caused by plastic waste. The startling figures of 895 plastic manufacturing companies and sachet water producers in Ghana, churning out about 26,000 metric tonnes of plastic products annually, should be a wake-up call for the government to aggressively redress the plastic waste menace.

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