Ghana, has in partnership with the Norwegian government, launched a new plastic management project under the Basel Stockholm and Rotterdam Convention, to find solutions to plastics marine litter problem in the country.
The two-year project, being implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was being managed through the Secretariat of the Basel Convention in Nigeria, to ensure that within the two-year period, Ghana was able to design proper measures to deal with plastic waste.
The plastic waste partnerships, which was also being rolled out in Bangladesh, as another pilot country, was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society actors to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste.
Ghana is said to generate over 3,000 tonnes of plastic wastes across the country daily, which constituted about 14 per cent of the entire municipal waste accumulated in the country.
Marine species are said to ingest or are entangled by plastics debris, which caused severe injuries and deaths. That is said to threaten food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism and contributed to climate change.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said at the lunching on Tuesday that, the Government was much committed to addressing the menace caused by plastic waste through proper management of plastic use, and therefore, welcomed the Norwegian partnership.
He reiterated government’s stance of not banning plastics out-rightly, but putting measures to manage its production and use, reuse, recycling, and safe disposal.
He explained that the world was now in a stage of plastics as it used to be in stages of iron and Bronze etc., and so many of the products being manufactured for use today had aspects of plastics in them, including; vehicular tyres, making it impossible to ban plastics out rightly.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said when concrete standards and policies were put in place to guide the transition towards a circular plastics economy, “we will achieve a myriad of positive outcomes”.
“We will see the creation of new jobs in the sustainable waste management sector, the protection of vulnerable individuals and communities from harmful effects of mismanaged plastic waste, and accelerated progress towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals”, he said.
According to the Minister, within the Accra Metropolitan Area alone, including; the Accra-Tema coastline areas, 35.6 per cent of the total waste was plastics.
Only two to three percent of those waste from plastics was collected for recycling by the informal sector, and therefore, commended Norway for coming on board to support Ghana to deal decisively with its plastic waste menace.
Ms Melisa Lim, Programme Officer, Basel Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, said, the launching of the project was paving the way for a two-day inception meeting starting from Tuesday to Wednesday, to allow government officials, private sector, CSOs and Basel Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat to discuss project objectives, expected outcomes, establish good relationship and support key stakeholders to provide feedback on the project activities and discuss the modality and way forward.
She said the project would address marine litter plastics and strengthen capacities of Ghana towards achieving environmentally sound management and plastic waste minimisation.
Ms Lim said the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, mandate 186 countries including; Ghana, to among others, better control plastic waste under legally-binding framework, which would make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and tightly regulated.
Mr Stein Nesvage, Counsellor, Embassy of Norway, said dealing with marine litter plastics could only be solved through global cooperation as litter travels across the globe with the ocean currents.
“It is a key priority for the Norwegian government, and Norway is taking action both home and abroad”, he said.
He said Norway, had therefore, and committed 1.6 billion Norwegian Kroner (NOK) as a development aid programme to combat marine litter, part of the funding being provided for the Ghana and Bangladesh pilot project.
He indicated that Africa was at a risk of increasing the contribution to marine plastic litter, as its plastic waste accounted for some 13 percent of the total waste generated, adding that if plastics litter into the ocean was left unmitigated, it would have an enormous impact on coastal economies.
Mr Nesvage, acknowledged Ghana for showing important leadership to address current waste management challenges and prepare for the expected growth in waste generation.
He expressed Norway’s further commitment in partnering Ghana and Africa in general, in managing marine litter to the benefit to coastal dwellers and countries, especially.