Lieutenant-Commander Christopher Heckman, Captain of HMCS Glace Bay ship is urging the public to opt for reusable containers instead of single-use plastic to help reduce plastic pollution.
He explained that the choice of reusable containers, especially water bottles, reduced the number of times single-use plastic waste was generated anytime one took water.
Lieutenant-Commander Heckman, gave the advice in an interview with Ghana News Agency at a beach clean-up exercise in Accra.
The event was a collaborative exercise with Royal Canadian Navy Command Team, Officials of Canadian High Commission, Plastic Punch and Cadet Corps Regiment of Regional Maritime University.
It is part of the activities the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ships HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Moncton team, who are engaged in the West Africa region as part of Operation Protection, Canada’s ongoing naval forward presence mission to promote peace and stability in support of the rules-based international order.
Lieutenant-Commander Heckman observed that plastic debris in the ocean was increasing hence the urgent need for every individual to take the right steps in disposing of plastic waste in an environmentally friendly way.
“We want to see and sail in an ocean that is plastic waste-free and one way this can be achieved is people adhering to disposal standards, reducing, reusing and recycling plastics,” he said.
Ms Kathleen Flynn-Dapaah, Head of Cooperation at the Canadian High Commission, said plastic waste affected marine life, the livelihoods of people that depended on the sea, and the food chain.
She said Canadians and Ghanaians were stewards of critical ecosystems and owed it as a duty to protect biodiversity and raise awareness about environmental and climate change risks to these ecosystems from human activities.
Ms Flynn-Dapaah stated that “the Government of Canada contributes to making a difference inGhana through its support to the National Plastic Action Partnership working alongside a wide range of stakeholders, with the aim to eradicate plastic leakage into the ocean and other water bodies by 2040”.
She said that the Canadian government had placed a ban on the import and manufacture of certain harmful single-use plastics including checkout bags, cutlery, and straws to help protect nature and restore critical ecosystems.
Madam Thomas Vania O. Estherleen, Director of finance at Regional Maritime University said the exercise was important due to the role the marine ecosystem played in the shipping industry, job creation and as a source of food.
She said as part of an effort to sustain the exercise the University would institute regular beach clean-up and incorporate the negative impact of marine pollution into some of its curricula.
About 2.58 million metric tonnes of raw plastics are imported into Ghana annually, of which 73 per cent effectively ends up as waste, while only 19 per cent is re-used, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
With only up to five per cent of plastic waste being recycled, the rest accumulates in the environment or ends up in landfills and nearly 30 per cent ends up in the ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that plastic bottles that end up in the ocean can take up to 450 years to biodegrade.
The plastic waste that ends up in landfills contributes to the contamination of groundwater and air pollution. In addition, undisposed plastics can amass in drains and lead to flooding.
The stagnant water from pollution-induced flooding facilitates the outbreak of waterborne diseases like malaria and cholera among vulnerable people living in highly polluted areas.