-Dr. Bob Maughon
Ghana is emerging as a regional frontrunner in recycling, thanks to its mission to formalize the sector. Across the continent, most recycling efforts rely on waste pickers who collect litter, sell it to intermediaries, and in some cases, even sell it to recyclers abroad.
But Ghana is now taking a more strategic, innovative approach, opting to use technology to measure quantities and types of plastic collected by waste pickers, and using the data to determine the best plastic waste prevention strategies.
Furthermore, the Ghanaian government and private sector can then use the data to invest their resources more wisely, build recycling plants, and help improve waste pickers’ wages and living conditions. It’s a tangible example of the work that could be done through the country’s upcoming Circular Economy Framework. At its core, it’s also an innovative solution that realizes plastics should be used and reused more intelligently.
SABIC, a global leader in the chemical sector, has a strong presence in Africa and Ghana and is considered a reliable supplier of various high-quality materials that support the development and transformation of communities.
We have an important role to play in helping countries achieve their sustainability and recycling goals. For us, transforming plastic into something easier to recycle is at the core of our approach to sustainability.
The versatility of plastics – when used intelligently and created sustainably – drives a wide variety of solutions, from the packaging of COVID-19 vaccines and food to the laptops or phone screens we all use. The responsible use of plastics makes lives better for people around the world.
That is why the use of plastics has increased twentyfold in the past 50 years. But even as our demand for materials like plastic continues to grow, we are providing solutions to reduce our waste of critical resources. We continue to meet our responsibility – to our workforce, our customers, the communities around us, and the planet as a whole – and are using our highly specialized expertise to help address the global challenges that we all face together.
Our pioneering TRUCIRCLE™ initiative is a key element of SABIC’s vision for the future in which plastic never ends up in the environment, landfill, or in our oceans. Instead, we believe plastics should be reused and remade into new products.
Renewable energy at the heart of sustainability
Beyond the circular economy, SABIC has also focused on carbon neutrality and renewable energy. We are already seeing in Ghana how renewable energy sources are positively impacting the country’s people, its economy, and naturally, the environment. By 2019, 34 per cent of energy generated in Ghana was from renewable energy sources – hydro-marine, solar, wind, bioenergy, and geothermal – and the country is considered one of the ‘greenest’ on the continent. Yet electricity demand is increasing by approximately 10 per cent per year, which is why Ghana is focused on expanding its renewable energy resources.
In this vein, our own renewable efforts have been focused on reducing the chemical sector’s environmental impact. One real highlight in SABIC’s efforts has been starting construction on the world’s first large-scale e-steam cracker furnace in Germany, in partnership with BASF and Linde. By using electricity from renewable sources, rather than natural gas to power the facility, we can reduce CO2 emissions of one of the most energy-intensive production processes by at least 90%.
Then there is BLUEHERO™, an expanding ecosystem of materials, solutions, expertise, and programs that are designed to support the world’s shift to more sustainable electric power. Its initial focus is on vehicle electrification and how to support global goals on climate change. The starting point has been to support the automotive industry’s mission to create better and more efficient electric vehicles (EVs), and already we are designing EV components that promise to make EVs safer and more cost-effective for manufacturers and consumers.
We still have challenges to overcome in our sustainability journey, but across the world – from Africa to Asia, Europe to America – we are seeing incredible examples of innovation that will inform our work. SABIC’s integrated strategies will continuously involve learning, adapting, improving, and innovating our business, and sustainability will always be at its core.
Source: Dr. Bob Maughon the Executive Vice President, Sustainability, Technology & Innovation