The Federation of Plastic Manufacturers, Recyclers and Users, Ghana (FePMRUG) has proposed the setting up of recycling plants in strategic zones across the country to effectively handle plastic waste.
It said the provision of plastic waste recycling plants in zones needed to be given a priority, as well as behavioural change towards the disposal of plastics, contending that the public outcry for the government to place a ban on plastics was not a sustainable solution to dealing with the plastic waste menace.
The Director of Policy and Sustainability of the FePMRUG, Mr Daniel Y. M.Tornyigah, made the call at the launch of the West African Plastic Waste and Marine Litter Conference 2019 in Accra last Wednesday.
The event, dubbed ‘Talkplast 2019’, will be held on the theme: “West Africa unites for clean, healthy and productive marine ecosystem”.
It will seek to deepen awareness of the plastic menace and the need for stakeholders to put in concerted, coordinated and innovative measures to improve waste management practices.
The conference is expected to attract stakeholders in the plastic industry and environmental experts from Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Morocco, The Sudan, Tunisia and Kenya.
Plastic waste worrying
“If we are able to prioritise plastic recycling as a country, we will not be talking about plastic waste for years to come and we will be able to harness the huge economic potential of the waste,” Mr Tornyigah said.
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He said waste streams in Ghana and across West Africa were currently dominated by plastic, primarily because of the widespread use of plastic products in the region, adding that the lack of focus on the recycling of plastic products had created a situation where plastic waste, like other solid waste materials, was discarded indiscriminately.
He said the oceans had become the default disposal site for plastic, with its attendant negative consequences for marine ecosystems.
For instance, he said, the development had led to declining fish stock, leading to the institution of a closed fishing season policy in Ghana.
He said other contributory factors to the situation included the government’s lack of focus in promoting effective recycling, the non-implementation of existing sanitation bye-laws and the non-operationalisation of the Environmental Excise Tax.
Mr Tornyigah noted that in Ghana, as in most of Africa, the challenge of plastic waste seemed to be getting worse, as the culture of plastic product patronage had increased, without a corresponding waste management mechanism.
“The consequence is what we see in our communities, with drains and more worryingly the oceans becoming a default destination for plastic waste disposal,” he said.
He noted that while efforts had been made by different entities, including the government, to explore solutions to the challenge, not much had been achieved, resulting in the public outcry for a ban on the use of plastics.
“These agitations have prompted the government to consider a policy on the ban on plastics in Ghana. While the policy debate continues, the imperative remains to explore alternatives and, more importantly, put in place sustainable waste management practices that will ensure a litter-free marine environment,” he contended.