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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 because people in Ghana actually use plastics. How would you tackle the problems of single-use plastic waste in developing cities such as Accra and Lagos?


Last updated: 5 July 2019 12:14 AM (GMT)


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





Plastic Pollution in Ghana 

 Plastic Pollution in Ghana


Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant/ Accra, Ghana



Recent Update: Ghana Government announced on July 2 2019 that it won't be banning plastics, citing Ghana's growing dependency on plastics as the main reason.


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 have ever seen in a whale in this baby goose-beaked 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.


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 

Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant/ Accra, Ghana


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 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.



Agbogbloshie Ghana 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana


Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant/ Agbogbloshie, Ghana



Plastic Pollution in Ghana 


See also: A Small Glimmer Of Hope Comes To Agbogbloshie


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 are regularly inundated with single-use plastics such as shopping bags, ‘pure water’ sachet bags, water and soda bottles.


Despite Ghana drowning in plastic trash, the Government of Ghana recently (July 2 2019) announced 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 of state 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?".


That's certainly a very interesting question to ask 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 officials expecting to do this for them? International donor partners?


Seems to me this way: since we know we cannot 'monitor' and 'police' a ban on plastics in Ghana, lets settle for the easiest solution - collect a 'small money' from plastic importers, set up a special office, create a space, and pay people to try to sort it out. Everything should be fine in the end.


So, Ghana Government's thinking is this: we won't ban plastics because people in Ghana actually use plastics.


This approach to tackling plastic pollution certainly highlights Ghana's institutional weakness.



Statistics on Plastics in Ghana 


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.


Each Ghanaian generated around 0.04 kg plastic 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.


Plastic Pollution in Ghana - Agbogbloshie 

Plastic Pollution in Ghana 


Photo Credit: Muntaka Chasant/ Accra, Ghana


Open burning of residential trash (with high plastic content) is a leading source of air pollution in developing countries.


Around 28,000 premature deaths in Ghana each 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



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’ sachet bags, shopping bags, and water bottles. This option seems to be out of the question for Ghana right now, as the government recently (July 2 2019) announced that it won't be banning plastics because Ghanaians actually use plastics.


• 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.

How would you tackle Ghana’s 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!











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 (4)

  • David

    I am David, quite satisfied with your write up especially suggestions on solutions. I would want a possible team work to drive this agenda which also would align with the presidents 2020 clean Accra initiative.

    Good day.

  • Ellis


    Thanks for your feedback. Your email is stored in our system. Someone from our team will reach out to you in the course of the week.

    Happy Environment Day 2019!

    Ellis, M.
    ATC MASK Customer Support Team.

  • 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


    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!


    ATC MASK Team.

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