Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), has charged recycling companies to give equal attention to micron plastic waste in their effort to address the country’s plastic waste menace.
He noted that often buyers of plastics, particularly recycling companies, under-value micron plastic waste, thereby discouraging pickers from collecting them.
Speaking in an interview with the media during a tour to the Accra Compost and Recycling Plants (ACRP) at Adjen Kotoku in the Ga West Municipality, in Accra, on Wednesday, the Minister, said it was imperative that waste management companies considered micron plastics as a contributor to the plastic waste menace.
“For example, when an overhead tank is destroyed people do sell them, ‘Kuffour gallon,’ ‘gye nyame,’ among others but we tend to ignore the smaller ones such as the PET bottles and the under 20- microns.
“Those ones are just left on the floor, so even though we are collecting the bigger plastics, we are still wallowing in plastic waste. That is my worry,” the Minister stressed.
Dr Afriyie, therefore, urged the companies to make collection of those plastics economically profitable to the pickers to encourage them to collect them for recycling to enable the country to win the fight against plastics.
The tour was to afford the Minister an opportunity to obtain first-hand information on the operations and challenges of the company, as well as foster partnerships and geneate ideas to identify sound policies and regulatory framework that government can enact to promote environmentally friendly practices.
Approximately, 13 million tonnes of plastic waste, equivalent to one garbage truck load every minute, enter the oceans annually.
The Pew Charitable Foundation estimates that the volume of plastics finding their way into the world’s oceans will triple by 2040.
In Africa, less than 20 per cent of plastics are recycled currently, far below the European Union (EU) target of 50 per cent by 2025.
But Ghana, with a five per cent recycling rate, has emerged as a regional frontrunner committed to creating a domestic recycling industry that protects the environment and the impoverished.
Already, the Minister has visited the Kpone landfill sites, where about 400,000 tonnes of plastic waste are collected daily to recycling facilities, the Spaceplast Company Limited, where about 50,000 tonnes of plastic are recycled daily, as well as met with the La Plastic Collectors Association.
Dr Afriyie said plastic waste remained a major concern to the government, stressing that the government was committed to ensuring that the situation was brought to its barest minimum, if not completely eradicated.
He said the Ministry would soon review its policies and legislations on waste management to tackle the problem, adding that various governmental bodies working with actors in the space had begun steps, including developing a comprehensive action plan to realise that goal.
He assured the Company of government’s readiness to give it the necessary support to help address the plastic canker.
Mr Michael Padi Tuwor, the Managing Director of ACaRP, said with the coming on board of an 800 tonnes a day facility, commissioned in October 2021, the Company currently, handled over 2,000 tonnes of municipal waste per day.
He disclosed that the Company, in collaboration with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, was developing a plan under a programme called Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), which would enable the Company to derive energy from the textiles it received as waste.
He said: “Once we are able to do that it means close to 95 per cent of the waste coming in would have been recovered and recycled for reuse.”
“We are targeting the cement industry and that is going to complement close to about 25 per cent of coal used as energy in the cement industry.”
Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, stressed the need for households to segregate domestic waste to facilitate recycling process.
He called for more collaboration among relevant agencies in the sector to find lasting solution to the problem.
Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, the Executive Chairman of Jospong Group of Companies, assured of his outfit’s readiness to address the challenge of under-micron plastic waste in the country.