In furtherance of its ambition to improve plastic waste management practices in Ghana, the Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE) has engaged stakeholders at a one-day workshop on sustainable management of this resource.
At the workshop organised by the private sector coalition under the aegis of the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund with support from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the coalition called on all stakeholders to re-think plastic as just waste and begin to see it as a resource that has the potential to unlock enormous economic value for Ghana.
Speaking at the workshop, Mr. Seth Twum-Akwaboah – Chief Executive Officer of the AGI, underscored the private sector’s commitment toward the issue of plastic waste management in the country, and its show of leadership with the formation of GRIPE and investment in solutions to tackle post-consumer waste in the plastic life cycle.
“Our member-companies are very concerned about the littering issue because we live and operate in the communities; this is one of the reasons why we formed GRIPE to manage the environmental impact of plastic. GRIPE started very small, but we are gradually growing and moving toward achieving our objectives of contributing to increased recycling rates and improving plastic waste management practices in Ghana,” he added.
He further stated that the journey toward ensuring that plastic becomes a resource of beneficial value to Ghanaians, rather than banning it, will involve all stakeholders playing their part to create the much-needed circular environment in the country.
Naa Ayeleysa Quaynor-Mettle, a member of the GRIPE working group and Pick-It Project Manager for FanMilk, said the benefits of plastic to health, hygiene and quality of life have proven to be enormous – accounting for the exponential growth in plastic-use. Regrettably, sustainable management of post-consumer plastic remains a national challenge, as only 2% of the estimated yearly generation of over one million tonnes is recycled.
“The problem Ghana faces is not a plastic problem but a littering problem. What GRIPE seeks to achieve is stimulating a holistic solution to support the development of a robust circular economy, and to promote recycling and a second life for plastic here in Ghana,” she added.
Mr. Essuman, a lecturer at the Department of Food Process Engineering, University of Ghana, in a presentation to participants noted that Ghana needs a 3-pronged solution to effectively deal with the plastic menace currently confronting it.
“As a country, in order to effectively deal with the plastic waste menace, we need to have technical & engineering solutions in place; as well as a plastic waste management system and a behavioural & attitudinal change from all of us.”
The Workshop, which took place at the Bank of Ghana Auditorium, University of Ghana, brought together key stakeholders in the plastic value chain: including Policymakers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Media, Academia, industry and Development partners.
Among others, it highlighted the current regulatory requirements in the use of oxo-biodegradable additives, the benefit of plastics to food safety, and the various second-life solutions that affirm post-consumer plastic as a beneficial resource the county can be harness.
Participants were also taken through the various interventions introduced by GRIPE; including collection schemes and the Modified Concrete Project currently being piloted by GRIPE. This pilot research project employs post-consumer plastic waste in the manufacture of building/paving blocks. Scientific data generated from this project is expected to influence policy formulation, further research and/or replication in other parts of the country.