Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention and so the urgent need for the best way to deal with Ghana’s waste management challenges gave the impetus for the establishment of recycling plants.
Last Friday, April 5, 2019 saw the commissioning of a third recycling plant under the aegis of waste management company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, with partnership from Komptech Austria.
The first recycling plant located at Adjen Kotoku in the Greater Accra Region is the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant (ACARP) which was built in 2012, followed by the Kumasi Compost and Recycling Plant (KCARP), which is about 90 per cent completed.
Perhaps it is the simplicity of the latest plant – the $20 million Integrated Recycling and Compost Plant (IRCoP) that enabled it to be completed before the Kumasi plant.
Recounting what brought about the revolution in waste management in Ghana at the commissioning last Friday, the Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, Mr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, said; “By 1991, Government was operating 21 landfills.
All these landfills have been covered and closed down since the lifespan of a landfill is two years.
“Most of them were donor funded.
Some of the landfills are currently full and causing nuisance to residents in areas where they are located.
Associated with the high cost of operation is the problem of low turnaround time as the trucks had to cover long distances in the midst of heavy traffic congestion to reach the landfill sites.
“Another aspect of the problem is that when it rained, the trucks were unable to operate effectively. In the light of this, Zoomlion decided to introduce composting and recycling as part of recovery of resource from waste.
“Mindful that the waste management system, as being operated could not match the speed with which the government was determined to see environmental cleanliness achieved, Zoomlion’s motivation to be part of the rapid waste processing solution was aroused, leading us to collaborate with our European technology partners - Komptech Austria.
“We shared and exchanged ideas about our research findings on the concept of mobile and integrated waste technology that can be quickly installed and be capable of handling the type of mixed waste as we currently have in our communities.
The outcome of this technological research partnership is confirmed by the $20 million Integrated Recycling and Compost Plant project that is about to be commissioned.”
Mr Agyepong said by the end of August 2019, the equipment would have been installed in Tamale, Kumasi and Takoradi, while there were plans to install the waste processing facilities in all the 16 regions of Ghana.
According to the Quality Control Manager at KCARP, Dr Glenn Gyimah, what makes the new plant unique is that it is mobile “and the second aspect of this is that it is a hybrid system, which means the system is run on a generator and electricity.
So, there will not be anytime that you will say that because there is no power, we are out of business.”
There are two sorting lines that will be operated simultaneously and each will have not less than 50 people operating it.
The lines which have 200 tonnes infeed capacity each are made up of a plate conveyor in the Hopper, a belt conveyor, then the primary sorting cabin (which accommodates eight people) where the first sorting is done to take out unwanted materials such as faecal matter, broken glasses and plastics.
After the cabin is the shredder (terminator) which opens up anything that is fed into it along the chain and reduces them into various sizes in conformity with the flow to allow smooth movement.
From there the waste moves to the rotary drum screen which has an aperture size of 80mm to trap as much organic material as possible.
There is also a magnetic drum that traps all metals out of the waste.
From there the waste moves to another chamber – the air separator, where undesirables and bulky waste are removed and the rest allowed to move to the secondary sorting cabin.
There is also a receiving bay that is able to hold about 1,200 tonnes of waste for three days’ production.
There is also a water logged unit that deals with the leachate from the waste and a treatment plant that treats the leachate which is transported to the clean water tank and used to water the compost at the composting unit to enhance decomposition.
The plant has its laboratory and there is a changing room for workers to get well clothed in working gear before starting work.
At the commissioning, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Ishmael Ashitey said the establishment of the plant had enormous economic benefits such as creating employment for the youth.
He added that the initiative would also provide raw material for Ghanaian industries.
He, therefore, gave the assurance that his outfit would give the establishment the needed support it deserved.
Other benefits are the plant’s ability to recover waste materials that would have ended in the landfill and turn them into raw materials for industry. This saves the environment from pollution and space needed to site new landfills.
The IRCoP has an 80 per cent waste recovery rate and the capacity to handle 800 tons of solid waste on a 16-hour shift and designed to additionally process about 200 tons of compost every day.
The Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah, said a lot of efforts had been made in the past to make Accra one of the cleanest cities but to no avail.
He noted that it was due to the lack of infrastructure to collect the waste, adding, “In my quest to deal with this matter, I as the Chief Executive Officer of AMA, and with the support of the chiefs and elders of the Ga State, decided to support Zoomlion by giving this piece of land to Zoomlion to put up this facility.”
He added that the intervention of Zoomlion was timely because Accra generates 3,000 tonnes of waste daily, hence without a facility to carry and process the waste, it would be difficult to achieve the target set by President Akufo-Addo to make the capital one of the cleanest cities in the sub-region.
Socio-economic benefits, job creation
It is envisaged that the plants will also draw commercial activities to the areas where they are sited, such as food and entertainment joints, transport businesses and other related activities.
The over 50 tonnes of compost that would be produced daily per plant is expected to displace over 864,000 bags of chemical fertiliser imported annually into Ghana.
It is also anticipated that about 216,000 bags of compost would be produced annually by each plant with an additional 600,000 seedlings raised for distribution to commercial plants for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
There is also the potential to increase indirect job creation within the radius of operation of the plants with each providing direct and indirect employment of over 1,000 people in the region.
The facility is meant to address indiscriminate dumping of solid waste resulting in widespread pollution and its attendant effects on human health across the country.
Also, it is believed that the IRCoP will provide job opportunities for hundreds of tricycle operators in the informal sector and convert the unsightly Agbogbloshie area into an eco-enclave, linking all activities inherent in the management and recycling of waste streams in the area.
The facilities are expected to reduce the turnaround time for operators and improve efficiency of waste collection in the central business district as well, while the resultant cleanliness boosts the tourism potential of Ghana’s cities.