Over recent years, the world has witnessed an increasing level of waste production as a by-product of the increasing level of population, affluence and technological advancement in a given environment or society.
Waste therefore is of a substance, material or by-product which is discarded or unwanted most especially after being used to satisfy a specific need. Waste can be categorized into municipal solid waste which is made up of household trash or refuse, commercial waste and demolition waste; hazardous waste which is derived from industrial waste; biomedical or clinical waste; special hazardous waste which involves radioactive waste, explosive waste, and electronic waste (e-waste).
As a result of civilization and modernization, overpopulation in recent times has brought about both positive and adverse impact on the environment.
One major adverse impact observed is pollution. Due to overpopulation or the increased population level in a given area, the demand for life essentials such as food, household supplies and so on has become very high.
The mismanagement of disposing these commodities or materials namely: rubber, plastic, metals, paper, etc. is what leads to pollution which affects the land, waterbodies and air.
The increasing impact of pollution on the environment has drawn a huge concern on waste management and its associated disposal methods. Recycling has been the most effective remedy to decreasing the level of pollution as well as proper waste disposal and management. It can be described as the process of converting waste into a reusable material. It is mainly about the collection, sorting, and processing of recyclable materials from locations like households, drop off points, businesses, construction and demolition sites.
The recycling industry has been of enormous aid to the management of waste to the benefit of both the natural and human environment and has been adopted worldwide especially in industrious countries and Ghana is of no exception.
Taking account, the many possibilities and opportunities recycling can bring to Ghana, a country whose primary concern has always been on how to curb and mitigate the problem of pollution of which waste is a major factor, the adoption of recycling became a must. Recycling is a yardstick to job creation hence the required and needed procedures to create an environment that encourages it is very vital. The main force that ensures effective change is undeniably the youth of a country.
With the efforts and abilities of the youth of Ghana employed, the challenge of pollution that the country faces can be tackled effectively. I believe firmly in this assertion because not only does it help reduce the increasing level of unemployment recorded in the country of which the youth are basically the greatest affected but also it creates the avenue for talented and creative unemployed graduates to unleash their ability to help find solutions to pollution through recycling.
Recycling has without an iota of a doubt brought the awareness and need for manufacturers to use healthy materials, resulting to non-toxic closed-loop systems and has therefore promoted greater usage of renewable energy. This initiative has thus introduced ambitious remedies that focuses on the quality of air, the treatment of waste, the development of renewable energy and diverse ways of recycling waste into something useful.
The major commodity people patronize when going about their daily activities either is made up of or packaged in plastic as observed in Ghana. Plastic is the highest type of waste that can be spotted at waste dumps and sites all across the country.
Overtime, there have been some existing manufacturing companies as well as new recycling companies that have resulted in employing the youth in this lucrative venture. There are a lot of job opportunities that the youth can take advantage of in this industry.
Setting up a recycling company is one example; whereby an unemployed graduate who by the aid of financial institutions and government grants can get a land for the collection of waste materials (plastic, cans, etc.) that can be sold to other recycling companies or manufacturing companies that are interested in using waste materials in creating something reusable. This serves as a source of revenue for the youth who is capable of establishing a company and increases the entrepreneurial interest and ambition of the youth in Ghana.
Another job opportunity that is created for the youth is recycling organizations or companies employ mostly the youth to go around collecting waste materials from homes, workplaces, hospitals and the environment as a whole.
The main waste material as I said above that can be found in Ghana is plastic waste. Most of our essentials such as water, food and general products are packaged in plastic thus it is evident to find people drinking and eating from plastic sacs and dumping them on the streets and in every corner possible.
This in turn ends up in the gutters and drainage systems in the country which causes massive flooding during the wet season. The less spoken of the adverse effect derived from this practice the better, which obviously have environmental implications.
The collection of these waste materials by the youth grants them employment, the ability to make money, enhance their likelihood and also improves the state of the environment into a conducive place for both the current and future generation.
It is worth mentioning the opportunity that the recycling industry creates for the unemployed graduates whose expertise or training is in the technical sector of processing and manufacturing. New small scale recycling industries will be in need of the technical expertise of the youth in realizing its objectives hence the margin of unemployed graduates will be minimized. Apart from the aforementioned, the youth will be also needed in the packaging, distribution and marketing sector.
Now this opens up a range of job opportunities to the entire youth not only to the unemployed graduates but also to the recovering youths such as the school drop-outs, teenage parents, the youth who have criminal records like theft and so on as a result of being idle from their unemployment time frame. Those with little or no background of education can also be trained in these fields.
Moreover, the youth can also get involved in creating public awareness and educating the waste management issues, sensitizing the consequences of increment of waste generation without the adoption of recycling methods which should be primarily initiated in our homes. For example, the awareness of promoting good waste disposal practices like sampling and separating solid and liquid waste in our dustbins should be done for easy retrieval of the different waste materials by recycling agencies when they come for them.
The youth can join alliance with the health ministry as well as environmental protection agency in educating the populace on the unconscious and wrong disposal of waste materials immediately after use and how it threatens human health and Ghana’s natural environment.
Last but not the least, innovation is created amongst the youth who delve into the opportunities the recycling industry creates, problems facing the country in terms of sanitation, pollution and unemployment is tackled in an integrated manner by numerous development objectives from both governmental agencies and the youth in concern.
Also, environmental benefits will be realized through waste recycling whereas social benefits will boost through employment and reintegration of recovering youth into society. Finally, economic benefits will be met through the sale of locally made products from the recycled materials which in turn generates income to help sustain the economy.
The country has already seen young entrepreneurs who have tapped into the recycling business. For instance, the 25-year-old social entrepreneur and graduate of the University, Ms Awurama Kena-Asiedu who is the founder of Ramaplast, a company that recycles and utilizes plastic waste for the production of quality bags for school children as it is projected to provide employment for over 20,000 youth in the country.
Summarily, recycling tends to have numerous job opportunities for the youth of Ghana and also serves to address the social, economic and environmental problems of our country Ghana.
BY STACY M AMEWOYI