Ghana generates around 22,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year but it recycles only about 2 percent.
The rest find their way into land filled sites, drains, water bodies and other open places, causing hazards to the environment.
Wanting to lessen the effects, a Ghanaian company has come up with an innovative way of using plastic waste to produce pavement blocks and other building materials.
Nelplast Ghana Limited said its products are made up of 60 percent plastic and 40 percent sand without any cement, which is said to be stronger than the ordinary pavement blocks.
Nelson Boateng, who is behind the innovation, said the company makes use of all forms of poly waste products except PVC pipes, and mixed with river sand to produce solid pavement blocks.
“The product that comes out is like a paste. We put them in a mould, we press it under hydraulic press then we get the shape and design of the block that we want,” he told Xinhua.
According to Boateng, this initiative was conceived after the Ghanaian government’s threat to ban use of plastic bags.
The company’s blocks are sold at 1 U.S. dollars which is cheaper than the average price of 1.5 dollars for concrete block.
Currently, the blocks have been used to rebuild a potholed stretch of road in Ashaiman, a cosmopolitan and heavily-populated community where Nelson grew up.
“For now we are just trying to help the community. Maybe, places with potholes that are disturbing cars when they are driving. So we are now doing it for free,” Nelson said.
According to him, people do come with orders but as the firm is not producing on a large scale, it can not commit itself.
“We are just taking orders from small households because a day we are doing only 200 blocks which is very small. We can not compete with the concrete producers outside.”
Due to operational challenges, Nelson’s company can only recycle 2,000 kilos of plastic waste daily.
But with state support and acquisition of modern equipment, the company plans to scale up its production.
“We believe with this innovation, it is going to do more than the 2 percent that the country generates because this time around we are going to use all kinds of plastics, even the one in the gutters we will collect them and it will be used for these blocks that can last for a lifetime. It is cheaper and durable,” he said.