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MESTI plastic free pilot takes off

BY: Yaa Kuffour Senyah
Lydia Essuah (2nd from right), Director for Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, with Oliver Boachie (right), Special Advisor to the MESTI Minister, drinking the NOTPLA OOHO water during the ceremony. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

The Ministry of Environment Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) has launched a pilot project to test alternatives to the conventional use of single plastics in the country.


Dubbed the ‘Edible and Compostable Packaging Programme,’ it is targeted at demonstrating the potential of plastic-free packaging as a sustainable alternative to reduce the use of single packaging and pave the way for a more widespread use of natural packaging.

The project explores the use of all natural packing solutions such as seaweed and other plants which are biodegradable and dissolve within a short period of time.

Alternatively, such biodegradable materials could be eaten instantly by the user as a way to protect the earth and reduce the use of single plastic waste in our communities.

The edible packaging manufactured by the NOTPLA Group are the Notpla coating which is used to line traditional takeaway food packaging with grease and water resistant qualities and the Notpla OOHO which is an edible bubble made from seaweed that changes how liquids are packaged and disposed of.

Yesterday, the pilot project was launched in Accra and in partnership with the various canteens at the University of Ghana in Accra, the products would be piloted to ascertain its quality and flexibility in the environment.

Following a successful piloting within the university community, the ministry would scale up the manufacturing and distribution of the products across the country.

Single plastic use menace
The Minster for MESTI, Dr Kwaku Afriyie in an address read on his behalf at the launch, indicated that the major problem the country was faced with was the management of single-use plastics or the under 20microns plastics that were used in the food and beverage industry.

In his address read by his representative, the Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at MESTI, Lydia Essuah, the minister was concerned that the use of the 20microns plastics posed a threat to human health because of the microplastics used in the lining of the food while cooking.

“I believe the best step we can take is to reduce the number of plastics used, by considering alternatives such as card or paper that can easily decompose without compromising on the quality of products and the environment,” he intimated.

He indicated that in line with the ministry’s commitment to ensure the management of single plastic use in the country, it had partnered the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions in implementing the project on “Marine Litter and Microplastics: Promoting the Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Waste,” with funding from the Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency (NORAD).

Framework
Giving an overview of the initiative to promote an environmentally sound management of plastic waste under the NORAD support, the Special Advisor to the Minister, Oliver Boachie, said it was aimed at creating a framework that minimised the generation of hazardous wastes in terms of quantity and degree of hazard.

It will also help in the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes and promote the environmentally sound management (ESM) use of such wastes.

He explained that as part of the implementation of the project, six pilot projects were being rolled out and were currently at various stages of completion, with one of the pilots being the edible and compostable packaging.

“The primary objective of this pilot project is to demonstrate the potential of edible and compostable packaging as a sustainable alternative to phase out Single Use Plastics (SUP) sachets and bottles, as well as food and sauce containers,” he emphasised.