A project meant to reduce the cost of waste management by empowering young people with skills to become the next change makers in the plastic value chain has taken off in three schools in Accra.
The senior high school (SHS) Plastics Recovery Project is being piloted in the Accra Girls Senior High School, Presbyterian Boys Senior High School, and Achimota Senior High School.
It is an initiative of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE).
The project demands that student ambassadors influence their peers in school, family and community on proper ways of disposing of plastic waste for management and recycling.
Launching the project in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, observed that the GRIPE initiative would promote the circular economy of plastics and help to reduce the cost of solid waste management in selected schools.
“It is important for us to imbibe in our children desirable attitudes towards plastic waste management so that it becomes part and parcel of them as they grow.
“Admittedly, post-consumer plastic management has become one of the biggest and complex challenges of our time, and as a complex challenge, it requires innovative and integrated solutions to reduce additional cost to conventional development.
“Although plastics are a globally important material with diverse applications in the food and beverage industry, textiles, construction, electronic and electrical equipment, medicine and pharmacy, agriculture, among others, there are environmental concerns associated with its use,” he said.
The Director of CSIR-Institute of Industrial Research, Dr Francis Boateng Agyenim, said plastics were valuable materials that had saved the world from rapid deforestation, and over dependence on non-renewable minerals, such as borosilicate for glass.
He said plastics were light in weight, flexible, easy to process, film forming and less costly as compared to the metal, glass and wood counterparts.
He said the unique properties made them applicable in diverse industries such as automobiles, food and beverages, construction, electronics, energy generation and storage.
Dr Agyenim explained that the high economic value and versatility of plastics had contributed to an average annual global production of 322 million tonnes from 2010 to 2020 with a market size of $579.7billion.
“It also has a projected growth rate of 3.4 per cent between 2021 and 2028.
“Ghana imports 2.58 million tonnes of virgin plastics every year due to the high demand for its products,” he said, adding, that was good news for both the global and local economies.
The President of GRIPE, Mr Basil Ampofo, said it was believed that plastic was a resource and not a waste, and that if they inculcated the attitude of segregating plastic in the students, the national vision of plastic waste management could be realised.
He said it was their hope to extend the project to other schools, including the basic level across the country.