Waste (liquid and solid) waste management quantities are increasing astronomically globally, due to the corresponding increase in human and population growth. The corresponding cost of management is also increasing due to the increase cost in infrastructural investment and recurrent expenditure. The case of the right human capital and appropriate local technology cannot be overlooked, since no size fits all in waste management.
It is universally accepted that the sustainable solid waste management methods (prevention, source reduction, reuse, recycle/composting, incineration and landfill among others) are appropriate. However, their level of utilization by most countries depends on several factors, among them are level of development, affordability and the right expertise.
Waste management in Ghana has come a very long way historically, technologically and in terms of availability. Several years back, the story about waste management was nothing to write home about. However, the story is different now, which gives hope for the generations yet unborn; but consolidating efforts and gains will require the support of all players such as citizens, civil society, government, the private sector and donors. This paper looks at the role the private sector has played in the metamorphosis of waste management in Ghana, by considering the consistent efforts made by the Jospong group of companies in the sustainable efforts of government for waste management in Ghana.
The technology adopted currently and level of availability of waste management today was not the same before 2006. Reference is always made to the use of donkey carts and push-carts or wheelbarrows to collect and dispose of waste in Ghana. The use of donkeys and push-carts for waste was not only inefficient, but also posed a lot of danger to public health and the environment.
At the time, those methods were somehow ideal due to the low level of generation caused by low population and human activities/industrialization. The danger and drudgery associated in the use of direct human energy are what made the use of carts driven by animals or pushed by humans archaic. This is not to say that the use of these methods over a short distance in areas where there are no accessible alternatives is obsolete, but they were used to transport waste to final disposal sites in the past.
Not only did the solid waste management sector experience the use of low-level technology for collection and disposal, the sewerage management sector also had its fair share of challenges in the past. It is still fresh in the minds of citizens of Ghana who know James Town; the situation before establishment of the sewerage system in Ghana is still on the minds of Ghanaians and the international community at large.
Because there was no place to receive and treat the faecal waste of Accra and its environs, owners of cesspit-emptiers had no option other than to dispose the contents of their trucks directly into the sea. Not only did this have a direct effect on the sea and marine life, residents and passersby also got their share of the stench emanating from the area.
All said and done, Ghana has made several gains in its fight against waste mismanagement, courtesy the private sector involvement and donor support; but more still needs to be done while consolidating these gains.
Current State of Waste Management
As stated earlier, growth of the waste management sector has been improved over time; but as to whether it is the ideal case now is an answer that all Ghanaians need to provide – by comparing with other countries Ghana was at par with several years ago. If the conclusion is favourable, then we need to move along and keep pace with them, or else why???
Solid Waste Collection Facilities
Solid waste collection and transport using simple but effective equipment such as manual tricycles have played a significant role in Ghana. The manual tricycle was introduced into the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to solve a then-looming waste crisis in 2006.
Manual tricycles introduced by Zoomlion Ghana Limited in 2006 to support waste collection and disposal in the MMDAs of Ghana.
As a first step to support the MMDAs, this was followed by the introduction of motorized tricycles to keep pace with the increasing volumes and distances to final disposal sites.
As population rates and human activities continued to grow, there was further need to introduce stronger, bigger and more durable modes of collection and transport. This birthed the ‘borla taxi’ concept.
As the quantities of solid waste generated increased, so did the need for the size and type of equipment, so that demand for services could be met. Cost of doing waste management business had to looked at critically in order to balance the demand and execution of waste management services. Since demand will also increase, which was the case after the introduction of the ‘borla taxis’, skip trucks and containers, compaction trucks. Roll-on Roll-off trucks were also introduced alongside to handle relatively larger containers that are required at specific places due to high generation rates.
These trucks have handled waste from institutions and market centres across Ghana, thereby standing the test of real time.
And long trailers for increased collection and long-distance hauling. The long trailers were introduced to receive waste at transfer stations (another innovation by the Jospong group) and transfer it over long distances,
so as to reduce the number of smaller vehicles that would be plying the road to final disposal sites. These long trailers are capable of receiving and hauling waste quantities that can be transported by not less than ten (10) skip trucks; which means that only one truck instead of ten will have to travel over long distances to dispose of their waste.
At the same time, some long compaction-trucks were introduced to serve the informal sector waste collectors, who mostly use motorized tricycles.
Since the role of the private informal sector in the management of solid waste in Ghana is essential, Zoomlion Ghana introduced these trucks to support their services, which will remove the burden of travelling long distances to disposal sites and at the same time ensure that they do not resort to improper dumping – which some time ago was prevalent along the Accra-Tema motorway and other places
Road sweepers were also recently brought into the country by Zoomlion to sweep and wash busy roads in selected cities.
Before their introduction, sweeping was done manually without washing, as practiced by many countries. The passion to derive the benefits of sustainable development has been consistently exhibited by Jospong, which calls for support from all stakeholders locally and internationally to enable it continue its more than decade-long contribution to promoting quality public health and adding meaning to dreams of sustainable waste management.
Solid Waste Transfers Stations
Heavy traffic in cities and long distances to final disposal sites affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire waste management system. To overcome these, there is a need to construct temporary storage facilities referred to as solid waste transfer stations; equipped
with long trailers that will transport waste over those distances.
Timely but appropriate responses to needs of the waste management sector is key for its effectiveness. In most cities there is high competition for land space, due to higher rates of business, industrial, hospitality and residential activities. Therefore, there was need for transfer stations to serve Accra and other areas situated several kilometres from landfill sites, which called for the construction and operation of the Teshie and Achimota transfer stations by the Jospong Group of Companies called ZoomPak.
Not only the distance to the landfill site necessitated their existence; most assemblies do not have their own landfill sites. Additionally, the flood-prone nature of most cities in Ghana renders landfills inoperable over time – which further calls for temporary storage facilities such as transfer stations.
Material Recovery and Compost Facilities
Integrated material recovery and composting facilities have been introduced into the waste management chain of Ghana. In July 2012, the Jospong Group introduced the Accra Compost and Recycling facility in the greater Accra Region, to carry out extensive sorting of waste materials and make compost out of the biodegradable fraction.
This facility, with a capacity of processing 1,200 tonnes/day of municipal solid waste, was initiated by the private sector with support from government. If more of this facility type were replicated in Accra, there would not have been so much reliance on final disposal sites.
Notwithstanding, Zoomlion Ghana recently introduced the integrated recycling and compost (IReCoP) facility at the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP) site (close to the Korle Bu Mortuary), which will become a Waste Recovery Park for all waste categories.
This facility has the capacity to process (material recovery and composting) 800 tonnes of waste generated within the city centre in two shifts of 8 hours each. It therefore means if these 2 material recovery and composting facilities are working at their full capacity and using a percentage of 80% recovery rate, they can process 1,600 tonnes of waste from Accra and other areas. With a 2019 project population of 4,943,075 for the greater Accra Region (Ghana Statistical Service) and a daily per capita generation rate of 0.5 kg, about 2,500 tonnes of waste will be generated – which means 900 tonnes will have to be disposed of.
However, in order not to stress the existing facilities, it is advisable to run them on a single shift of 8 hours a day. This means that they can only cater for 800 tonnes, which will increase the quantity to be disposed to about 1,700 tonnes. It therefore implies that about 4 more of IReCoP plant capacity type can help to contain the entire municipal solid waste generated in Accra, which will suffice for up 2022 – by which time government will be able to put at least one waste to energy plant for the region. By 2022, the generation will be between 2,600-3,000 tonnes per day
Solid Waste Disposal Facilities
Disposal sites in Ghana will continue to fill up very fast – because it is the primary choice across the country or other treatment methods are simply non-existent. Alternatives such as composting on large scale currently exist only in the Greater Accra Region of the country. Even though they exist in the region, they are not enough in terms of capacity to help divert more waste from the landfill sites.
The idea of a common disposal site shared by more one MMDA is very laudable due to the diminishing land space in cities. But in the case of the Greater Accra Region, land is very scarce, which calls for a reduction in the quantities that have to be sent to the landfill sites – now and in the future. This will create the requisite conditions for all stakeholders in the waste management value chain. Why? Because soon/now, the existing disposal sites are full or inaccessible during periods of heavy rain.
Currently, the Jospong group recycles high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and Low-density polyethylene (LDPE). This is being done by a subsidiary that is well-equipped with the necessary human capital and equipment.
Due to lack of support from the government sector, these plants are not able to operate at full capacity, because the idea of setting them up was to – through government support – engage the youth in collection of plastic waste in the country, for it to be processed into receptacles such as waste-bins and their liners which would be placed on streets and in public places.
Medical Waste Treatment
ZoomPak, a subsidiary of the Jospong Group, has integrated a medical waste treatment facility into its transfer station – which has the capacity to properly treat all medical waste in the Greater Accra Region.
However, the facility is currently underutilised because most health facilities currently incinerate their waste, which is hazardous to public health and the environment. To protect both public health and the environment, there is a need to properly treat and dispose of all medical waste in Ghana.
Faecal Waste Treatment Facilities
Faecal waste treatment was a major challenge some years back, due the unavailability of treatment facilities or because they were non-functional. Whatever the challenges were, it was still not a good excuse to dispose of it directly into the sea and unapproved areas.
In order the stop the practice of disposing directly into the sea or in open areas, which can be best be described as secondary open defecation, Sewerage System Limited built a modern treatment plant that currently receives and treats faecal matter in an internationally accepted manner.
Such facilities are not going to be only in Accra, the same is currently been replicated in Kumasi and will soon reach other areas of the country. This shows that the Jospong group is poised to ensure Ghana wins its fight to establish sustainable waste management. With the support of all stakeholders, the group can replicate this for all the MMDAs in Ghana, because most of them currently discharge faecal waste directly into the environment.
Electronic waste management facilities
Due to Ghana’s inability to properly manage electronic waste, especially in Accra, Agbogbloshie has been consistently cited as the most polluted area in the world.
This is due to the public health and environmental implications of the current method of handling waste in the area. Again, moved by the plight of Ghanaians and the world at large, Zoomlion went into a partnership with the Ghana Atomic Energy Agency to put up a modern electronic waste (e-waste) facility that will receive a waste at a cost, and carry out dismantling and separation of components using internationally agreed standards. The facility is about 80% complete and yet to be operational, and is expected to complement efforts at ensuring sustainable e-waste management in Ghana.
Deep and shallow water dredging
Lack of or inadequate waste receptacles encourages littering in public places and/or dumping in drains meant for waste and storm water. Solid waste generated by the public and silt have reduced the volume of drains (primary and secondary drains) in Ghana, thereby causing water to be diverted onto roads, streets and houses among others.
In areas where underground fuel tanks are not properly buried, their contents can be diluted, causing their highly flammable contents to mix with storm-water – which can ignite through contact with any source of fire or a spark. This is the cause of fire outbreaks caused by flooding, which is also caused by choked drains.
To help solve this problem, a subsidiary of the group called Dredge Masters was birthed. This is the extent to which the Jospong Group is working to cater for proper public health and protect the environment to make sure all Ghanaians are safe and comfortable to carry on their day to day activities and also attract tourism.
Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA)
Ten (10) Nissan hard body pick-ups were donated to the assembly to help in achieving
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of making the capital city of Ghana (Accra) the cleanest city in Africa. This shows how committed and supportive the private sector is in the development of Ghana.
Addressing Human Capital Needs in Waste Management
The KNUST-Africa Institute of Sanitation and Waste Management (K-AISAM) was established in Accra to build the human capital requirement of waste management practitioners and technical staff in the MMDAs of Ghana and beyond. The K-AISAM develops human capital in the form of knowledge-transfer to individuals and companies through training and research on waste management.
Inaugurated on November 13, 2013, it has well-equipped facilities and the requisite human capital to operate. Because integrated challenges require integrated solutions, the Jospong Group has over the years tried to research and make all the necessary logistics, academic, and human resources locally available for systematic improvement and consolidation of gains in the waste management sector.
Efforts are far advanced in ensuring that each household in Ghana has an appropriate waste receptacle for storage. This, the Group believes, is the first step to ensuring that waste does not get into our environment. This will set the starting point to pave the way for further treatment activities.
Not only will this keep waste away from the environment, but also generate jobs and revenue for the MMDAs who will lead the entire process.
One District – One Plastic Recycling Machine
The Jospong Group currently has plastic recycling machines capable of serving all MMDAs in the country. They range from size reduction equipment (crushers and shredders) to pelletizing and finished product equipment.
The idea behind the procurement of this equipment is to contain the plastics challenge in the country. At least, having machines in all the districts that can carry out size/volume reduction, it is possible to pelletize at regional level and recycle at zonal locations. All it takes to implement this innovation is the support of all stakeholders in the country.
The future our Beloved Motherland Ghana, in the fight against poor sanitation, lies in the hands of all stakeholders that directly or indirectly have a role to play. To make and sustain any gains in this regard, there is a need for proper planning through appropriate forecasts, adequate investment and funding, and creation of the right environment for all stakeholders to participate.
For companies, groups and individuals that have contributed significantly over the years, their participation should be recognized and supported to enable them continue to contribute their quota. It evident that the Jospong Group of Companies has been engaged in the area of environmental sanitation and will do more if their investments can be recovered.
It is also evident that for the country and with the current waste generation rates, the group has enough to human capital and logistics to effective handle Ghana’s waste (solid and liquid), prevent floods and train the human capital of MMDAs and the private sector.