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Plastics are choking the world’s oceans, shorelines and rivers. It's getting worse inland. Despite Ghana drowning in plastic trash, the Government has announced it won't be banning plastics, citing the country's growing dependency on plastic products.

 

How would you tackle the problems of single-use plastic waste in developing cities such as Accra and Lagos?

 

Last updated: 11 November 2019 6:08 PM (GMT)

 

By Muntaka Chasant | 1081 words | Reading time: 4 min

 

 

 

 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 

A man riding a bike across a timber bridge over a sea of plastics near the center of Accra, Ghana's capital city. Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant


  

The Global Plastic Pollution Problem

 

A juvenile Cuvier beaked whale washed up around March 2019 in the Philippines with nearly 90lbs of plastic bags in its stomach. To the shock of researchers, they found "the most plastic" they had ever seen in a whale  - 16 rice sacks and plastic shopping bags tightly packed in its belly.1

 

Plastics are often ingested by marine life who mistake them for food.

 

A recent study published in the journal PNAS in November 2019 found pieces of plastics outnumber baby fish by 7 to 1 along the coast of West Hawaii.  

 

See also: Agbogbloshie, Ghana | Africa & World Population Statistics

 

Single-use plastics are devastating the world’s oceans, habitats, and marine life. 

 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 

The heavily polluted Korle Lagoon in Accra. Plastic Pollution in Accra, Ghana/ 5 October 2019. Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant


 

A recent study which investigated the social and economic impact of plastics in the ocean says plastic pollution costs the world up to $2.5 trillion a year.

 

Another study also estimated the cost of plastic pollution to the world’s marine ecosystem to roughly $13 billion each year.2

 

Plastic waste can enter the ocean through improper waste management such as the waste generated by coastal population, disposed plastics in uncontrolled dumps and littered waste.

 

See also: Pictures: The Rwandan Genocide

 

Up to 12 million tonnes of plastics entered the ocean in 2010 alone (Jambeck et al., 2015).3

 

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, more than 8 million tonnes of plastics enter the ocean each year.

 


How Are Plastics Affecting Poorer Countries? 

 

Single-use plastic waste regularly clog sewers, cause flooding and create breeding ground for mosquitoes. This can increase the risk of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and lymphatic filariasis in some poorer countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. 

 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 

Retro feel of a man transporting heavy goods on a wheelbarrow across an infirm wooden bridge over a sea of plastics in Accra, Ghana's capital city. Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant


 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 

 

See also: A Small Glimmer Of Hope Comes To Agbogbloshie

 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana

Plastics covering a beach in Jamestown, a district near the center of Accra, Ghana's capital city. Plastic Pollution in Ghana/ October 2018. Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant


 

Waste infrastructure has failed to keep up with Ghana's economic growth, leaving its capital (Accra) drowning in plastic trash.

 

Streets and waterways in Accra, and other urban areas in Ghana are regularly inundated with single-use plastics such as shopping bags, pure water plastic bags, plastic takeaway food boxes, and water/soda bottles.

 

Despite Ghana drowning in plastic trash, the Government announced on 2 July 2019 that it won't be banning plastics as it is not in the country's best interest. See Ghana's Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation announce and justify it here

  

The minister for environment rhetorically asked the audience in one of the videos in the blue highlighted link above: "If you ban something and you are not able to monitor and police it, what do you do?".

 

Interesting question to pose to the audience. 

 

Is the Government of Ghana admitting it is incapable of designing and implementing a policy? Isn't it exactly the responsibility of the state to implement and enforce a country-wide policy? Who is the Ghana Government expecting to do this for them? International donor partners?

 

So, in effect, this is what the Government of Ghana said: even if we do ban plastics, we won't be able to enforce it, so no, we won't be banning it. People in Ghana actually use plastics, so why ban it heh?

 


 

Here’s my impression from the video in the link above:

 

The minister seemed to have placed users/individuals at the center of Ghana’s plastic pollution crisis in a way to avoid responsibility. He hardly urged producers to do more.

 

Sticking to his talking points, he continuously stressed the use of plastics in industry as why they couldn’t be banned. Fair enough.

 

Note to Ghana's Minister for Environment: the emphasis is on single-use plastics. Plastics from the medical industry (crucial for modern medicine) hardly choke the gutters or end up in the Korle…it’s the unbranded plastic takeaway food boxes, shopping bags and pure water plastics bags which mostly pollute Ghana's urban waterways.

 


 

Statistics on Plastics in Ghana 

  

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 

No, that's not a dump. That's actually the Korle Lagoon - about 5 km from Ghana's Parliament House. Plastic Pollution in Ghana/ October 2019. Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant


 

According to a study, Ghana generated 302,192 kg/day of plastic waste in 2010 (more than 4 times generated in Kenya per day during the same period), and 81% (around 244,835 kg/day) of the waste was inadequately managed - plastic waste dumped in uncontrolled landfills. This did not include ‘littered’ plastic waste.

 

On average, each person in Ghana generated around 0.04 kg of plastics per day in 2010. Overall, around 6,044 kg of plastics were littered in Ghana every day. In comparison, only 1,466 kg of plastics were littered in Kenya every day in 2010.

 

Due to dysfunctional municipal waste management services, residents in urban areas in Ghana regularly burn plastic waste in the open, releasing highly toxic substances such as dioxins and furans into the environment.

 

Open burning of residential trash (with high plastic content) is a major source of air pollution in many developing countries - including Ghana.

 

More than 28,000 premature deaths in Ghana every year are linked to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization.4

 

See the magnitude of Ghana's dirty air problems in the link below:

 

RELATED: Air Pollution Killing More People in Ghana

  

Air Pollution in Ghana


Agbogbloshie - A short film


 

 

Solutions To Plastic Pollution in Ghana

 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 2019

Plastic Pollution in Ghana/ 2019. Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant


 

The following actions could help to reduce plastic pollution in Ghanaian cities:

  

• Complete government ban or reuse legislation - This could target the most visible single-use plastics such as pure water plastic bags, shopping bags, and water/soda bottles.

 

• Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) - This includes regulations to make producers responsible for the impacts of plastics on the environment - such as the growing cost of addressing plastic litter (collection, disposal, street sweeping, waterway cleanups, etc.). This extends the producer’s responsibility for a product to the post-usage stage. This could also include mandatory take-back programs.

 

• Incentives to industry through tax cuts (to encourage transition), promotion of alternative technologies, and raising public awareness about the environmental impacts of single-use plastics could also help to reduce plastic pollution in Ghana and other countries.
 

Where do you stand - recyclability, reduction or elimination?

 

How would you tackle Ghana’s growing plastic pollution problems? 

  

See also: Air Pollution in Ghana: Causes, Effects and Solutions

  

See also: Videos and Photos of Agbogbloshie, Ghana

 

See also: "Urban mining" and Air Pollution in Accra, Ghana

 

 

Please leave your comments below, and let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources.


 

1. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2689346287758609&id=216407245052538&__tn__=-R (Retrieved March, 2019)
2. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf?isAllowed=y&sequence=1 (Retrieved March, 2019)
3. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768 (Retrieved March, 2019)
4. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272596/9789241565585-eng.pdf?ua=1 (Retrieved March, 2019)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments (7)

  • Elizabeth

    Hello there,
    I love what you’re doing!👍🏽
    There are so many ways to tackle waste in Ghana and Cycolyte has joined in the fight.

    Kindly reach out to us in the future. We can save our planet. ♻️🌍

  • Sam

    @Elizabeth

    Thanks for the feedback. We here at ATC MASK also like your enthusiasm.

    Reach out to us anytime at contact@atcmask.com.

    Keep up the fight!

    Best,

    Sam,
    ATC MASK Team.

  • james

    hello guys i really like your article on this issue i am currently doing a research on the issue and i think your information is really useful can i contact you for data or further info if i suppose to need some ?

  • Sam

    @James

    Sam from ATC MASK here. Thanks for the feedback.

    Yes, you can reach out to us anytime using the contact form above or the phone/WhatsApp number.

    We will be more than happy to help with your research.

    Best,
    Sam,
    ATC MASK Team.

  • Kofitse Marvin.

    Outright Ban on single use plastics

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