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Fighting unemployment through waste management : Plastic recycling firms advised to scale up

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Dr Angela Lusigi (right), the Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana, collecting plastic waste during the beach clean-up
Dr Angela Lusigi (right), the Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana, collecting plastic waste during the beach clean-up

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ghana, Irchad Razaaly, has advised entrepreneurs to scale up their plastic recycling business.

That, he said, would not only solve the country’s plastic waste challenge but also serve as a source of income for many unemployed youths.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are already engaged in plastic but this has to be scaled up because this is creating jobs and opportunities and the final product that has been made out of recycled product are cheaper. Recycled products are also good for households,” he said.

Mr Razaaly gave the advice on June 4 in Accra at a beach clean-up which formed part of activities to commemorate this year’s World Ocean Day.

The event was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the EU, Plastic Punch, the Krowor Municipality and the Regional Maritime University.

On the theme: “Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean” the day comes ahead of the Graphic Business-Stanbic Bank Breakfast Forum next Tuesday, June 14, which seeks among other things to proffer solutions to the unemployment challenges in the country.

Behavioural change

He described plastic pollution as an alarming issue which was causing an extensive damage to the ecosystem, human health and needed to be addressed.

“Beyond that, we want to as well raise awareness of the fact that collectively as individuals, we need to change our behaviour when it comes to the use of plastics. We need to have solutions in order to recycle plastic.

“On top of changing our behaviour is a good business which can create investment and jobs, an ultimate thing we all care about for the future of Ghana and the youth,” he said.

The Resident Representative of the UNDP in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi explained that oceans play a vital role in regulating global climate, adding that “globally, three billion people depended on oceans for their livelihoods and in Ghana, fisheries supported almost three million livelihoods with over 100,000 fishers in the marine sector alone.”

She said currently, the health of our oceans was at risk from human-driven activities such as land-based pollution, rising sea levels from climate change and overfishing were threatening lives and livelihoods for millions in low-lying nations, coastal cities and communities like those living around the Nungua Beach.

“With no time to waste, we must re-evaluate our roles in reversing environmental degradation that puts our health, prosperity, peace and planet at risk.

We are called to draw on the power of collective action to create a sustainable future for the hundreds of millions of people who depend directly on the ocean for their food and livelihoods,” Dr Lusigi said.

Sustainable development solutions

She said as part of efforts to create sustainable development solutions through innovation and creativity, her outfit has provided about $400,000 grants to 11 companies who were promoting waste recovery, resulting in jobs, businesses, revenue and additional investments.

These innovators, she said were contributing to Ghana’s economic development such that going forward, the UNDP will continue to facilitate multistakeholder collaboration including those through the National Plastic Action Partnership and the Waste Recovery Platform to create space for stakeholders to co-create solutions that promote the sustainability of ocean resources.

“We will also continue to support innovation and work with public and private partners across Ghana’s vibrant innovation ecosystem to expand opportunities for young innovators who are working to keep our oceans healthy.

“I hope that our clean up today will encourage us all to scale up our collective action to beat plastic pollution for the sake of our lives and for the future of the planet,” she said.