Recycling plastic waste should be mandatory

World Environment Day was observed last week (June 5), and in Ghana the proliferation of plastic waste is becoming an environmental menace that needs swift action to control it before the entire environment is inundated with plastic waste which is not biodegradable.

Eight manufacturing companies under the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) have been leading an industry initiative to find a lasting solution to the plastic waste menace. Known as the Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE), it is already piloting initiatives that will contribute to tackling plastic pollution. A sorting and collection centre is in the last stages of construction and is to be launched next month at Tema New Town.

To its credit, GRIPE kick-started the validation of recycling technology that allows plastic to be used as aggregates in construction blocks. Along the coastline, plastic waste is the single-most problematic pollutant, and it is even destroying marine life with whales being washed ashore filled with plastic waste in their bellies.

As a result of its polluting nature, some countries have banned the use of plastic bags in favour in paper bags, like Rwanda; but the Minister of Environment, Professor Frimpong-Boateng, believes it is too early to ban plastic bags in Ghana. Therefore, the most efficient way to control the proliferation of plastic waste is to select and sort out waste to enable recycling and put to it industrial use.

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There are a few companies in the country recycling plastic waste, but they are not enough to rid the country of its heavy dependence on plastic. Therefore, it is heartening to learn that manufacturing companies under the aegis of the AGI are pooling together to recycle plastic waste for reuse – thereby limiting the need for more plastic products to be produced or imported.

We are in an era when sustainable development is the new catchphrase, and we need to adopt policies that support preservation of the environment. The GRIPE initiative is therefore a welcome development, particularly coming from the industry itself makes it even more relevant.

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