The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation has said as part of efforts to promote a circular economy and also reduce the negative impact of plastic pollution on the environment, it is considering phasing out single-use plastics.
The ministry cited arguments by some experts indicating that the solution to the growing amount of plastic pollution in the world lies in creating circular economies which eliminate single-use plastic – in favour of organic materials or plastics that can be recycled and reused.
Sector Minister Dr. Kwaku Afriyie said this on a familiarisation tour to some recycling companies to help foster partnerships and share ideas on what policies government can enact to support the private sector in dealing with the plastics issue in the country, especially the under 20-micron plastics which he describes as creating nuisance in the country.
“Plastics are products that. for now, you cannot do away with. So it is not likely we are going to ban plastics. The strategy is to apply all forms of tools where we have to apply legislation in a limited function targetted at specific products like the under 20-micron or single-use plastics, we will look at them. But I want to serve notice that we do not want to disrupt the industry; we do not want to cause economic chaos. That is why I am here to carry the industrial players along.
“On one hand we need plastics, do not get me wrong; even the under 20-micron plastics. So it looks like you have to phase it out. Even when you are doing that, you have to bring substitutes. So it is not like just one day you will ban it; but definitely, we will go in tandem with the industry so they do retooling; because those who are doing the under 20-micron plastics can retool,” he said.
He also added that his outfit will also reach out to manufacturers of single-use plastics to determine what alternative solution they can provide to add the single-use plastics into the recycling chain; or else there will be a need to employ pragmatic measures to do away with them.
“I am aware of other manufacturers out there who turn these plastics into the under 20-micron micron forms which are then used; I will be visiting them. I will solicit their help so that they can go to other parts of the manufacturing chain; or if they insist on doing this under 20-micron plastic, then they should tell us how we are going to put that back into the circular economy.
“Otherwise, we will not allow them to poison Ghanaians and degrade our environment; that one is not negotiable. But in the process, we will get a combination of factors so that the industry is not disrupted and Ghana will not suffer for it,” the minister said.
He also reiterated how plastic pollution is taking over the serenity and beauty of the environment and how it is a threat to human health.
“Given the big problem we face, I have narrowed it down to the single-use plastics – those are the ones causing all the environmental eye-sores. We see them fly about, they go into the oceans and break down; the fish eat them and they pass through the food chain. Ghana is one of the biggest consumers of fish, and this plastic enters our bodies,” he lamented.
Ghana’s National Plastics Management Policy
According Dr. Afriyie, the ministry is poised to ensure accelerated socio-economic development of the nation through the formulation of sound policies and a regulatory framework to promote the use of appropriate environmentally-friendly, scientific and technological practices.
He noted that the country is on the way to becoming the regional model for implementing a circular economy regime for the plastics sector in Africa. The foundation, he said, is highlighted in Ghana’s National Plastics Management Policy (NPMP).
He added that the policy has received Cabinet approval, and there is already a massive international collaboration underway to translate the policy objectives into actual activities on the ground.