The Coordinating Dean of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Obuasi campus, Prof. Richard Buamah, has revealed that plastic waste accounts for 85 percent of total waste in the ocean.
He warned that the dire situation does not seem to end and could triple in the coming years if proper measures are not put in place to curb it.
“Currently, plastics account for 85 percent of all marine litter. By 2040, it will nearly triple, adding 23 to 37million metric tonnes of waste to the ocean per year. This seems to be about 50 kilogrammes of plastic waste per metre of coastline. Due to these, all-marine lives face grave risk of behavioural disorder, starvation and suffocation.”
Prof. Buamah said this when he addressed a durbar of chiefs, pupils and stakeholders at Obuasi to mark this year’s World Environment Day organised by AngloGold Ashanti.
He bemoaned that the use of single-use plastic is on the high, stating chemicals used in its production have harmful effects on the environment and have been linked to certain diseases.
“It is an established fact that more than 10,000 chemicals are used in these plastics – of which 25 percent are potentially dangerous and linked to diseases like cancer and diabetes,” he added.
Meanwhile, during the celebration Senior Manager Sustainability, Environment for AngloGold Ashanti, George Owusu-Ansah, indicated that the mine has partnered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other stakeholders to enhance environmental sustainability on plastic waste management.
The partnership forms parts of AngloGold’s 10-year Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP) on environmental sustainability, which seeks to treat plastic waste as a valuable resource rather than waste.
This year’s World Environment Day focused on tackling plastic pollution through a campaign dubbed ‘Beat plastic pollution’, in an effort to raise awareness, mobilise action and promote environmental sustainability.
Mr. Owusu-Ansah said plastic waste is one of the leading environmental challenges globally today, and that AngloGold is making a positive contribution toward an enduring world by being responsible stewards of the environment in which they operate.
Highlighting some impactful projects to protect the environment, Mr. Owusu-Ansah said the company has also impacted the community through good waste management practices, pollution prevention and the release of treated water for public consumption.
The company has since commencement of operations in 2019 streamlined operations on environmental management, and successfully been certified by the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.
Obuasi Municipal Head of EPA, Prempeh Adarkwaa Yiadom, for his part encouraged the use of reusable items.
Awards worth GH₵600,000 were given to schools, individuals and organisations who excelled in the campaign against disposal of plastic waste. The awards included: laptops, tabletop computers, dustbins, shovels, wheelbarrows, school bags, books, flat-screen televisions and T-shirts among other items.
An exhibition on plastic waste recycling by schoolchildren who turned waste plastic into usable materials was also held.