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Plastic products major cause of environmental pollution – Ghana’s minister

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations (MESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie, in an exclusive interview with the Ghanaian Times said Plastic waste was one of the major environmental problems the country was battling with.

This is not only a nuisance, but also a public health hazard which continues to have negative impact on livelihood.

Dr Afryie disclosed that the government with support from some corporate organisations have distributed tricycles to collect and recycle plastic waste in the capital.

He said the informal sector plays a critical role in the recycling processes, especially with regards to plastic waste.

“The ministry aims at increasing collection and recycling of plastic waste through policy interventions such as providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations in the product design to minimise waste generation that obligate producers to assume the economic burden of managing the potential adverse environmental impacts of their products through collection, recycling or final disposal of waste associated with the product,” he said.

Dr Afriyie said implementing the initiative would serve as an opportunity to integrate informal sector players, which could result in better waste handling and recycling technologies within the informal sector, in compliance with formal regulations and standards, and could potentially increase recycling rates and reduce environmental leakages, hence, contribute to a cleaner environment.”

He cautioned citizens of inappropriate disposal of plastic waste, which he said was a major cause of flooding in the country.

Mr Elvis Oppong, president of the Pure Water Waste Collectors Association, said Informal waste recycling often consisted of urban poor and marginalised social groups, who considered gathering of waste as a source of income and survival.

He said the activity of plastic scavengers was characterised by unsafe, unhealthy working conditions and low irregular incomes.

“Either operating through door to door mechanisms or sorting waste at collection points, informal waste workers play a key role in recovering plastic products, recycling, and preventing plastic waste in our communities,” Mr Oppong said.

He called for more collaboration from the government and corporate organisations towards plastic waste management in the country.

Mr Abdul Fatawu, a plastic waste collector at Agbogbloshie, called on the government to assist waste collectors with gloves and other personal protective tools to aid in their work.

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