The Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum Akwaboah, has said a ban on the use of plastic materials for packaging and other uses in the country will mean collapsing industries and paying more for electricity.
He noted that there had been calls to ban plastics but those making that move had lost sight of the contribution the players in that space were making to the manufacturing sector.
“Apart from the usual contributions of the sector to employment and revenue generation, part of the reason why our electricity cost is even high today is because we have excess capacity, and we must pay capacity charge,” he said.
At a workshop on ‘Sustainable Plastic Management’ in Accra on April 26, 2019, Mr Akwaboah said in the absence of a better alternative, there was the need to discuss the issue bearing in mind that manufacturing was an important aspect of the economy and must be protected.
“Companies are concerned about the issues in the environment and when we see our streets littered with plastics and our gutters choked, we are concerned. That is why we have come together as the Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE) to find the solution to the plastic issue to keep our businesses; and we can generate more revenue and create employment,” he said.
The plastic reality
A total of 4.8 million tonnes of solid waste is generated annually in Ghana, out of which 14 per cent is believed to be plastics.
In terms of waste collection, experts say only 50 per cent of waste generated daily is accounted for by formal systems (trucks that pick at a fee). In other areas, it’s openly burned.
It is an industry-led coalition formed under the auspices of the AGI with a stake in the plastics sector to integrate sustainable waste management solutions, particularly around plastics.
GRIPE was founded in November 2017 by eight multinational companies and operates under four pillars: data and research, education and awareness, solution implementation (creating value for the material) and multi-stakeholder collaboration.
The Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager, Packaging and Special Plastics of Dow Chemical West Africa LLC, Ms Adwoa Coleman, said the solution to sustainable waste management must be holistic.
“If we want to implement a system that works, every one of us needs to be a part of understanding what waste is and how we behave towards waste,” she added.
“If plastics are separated, we may have an opportunity to sell it for recycling because in the end, if we collect this waste and we don’t have an end use for it, it won’t drive pickers to pick,” she stated.
She called on the government to put in place a policy that would drive these sustainable and holistic systems.