It will be difficult to immediately ban use of plastics – Minister

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) Dr Kwaku Afriyie has said it will be very difficult to immediately ban the use of plastics in the country.

According to Dr Afriyie the current state of plastics management in the country required an intense public campaign to engage citizens, businesses, schools, hospitals, and other institutions to cultivate a positive attitude towards the fight   against plastics pollution.

He said this yesterday in Accra, when Ghana joined the world to commemorate the World Environment Day 2022, which was held under the global theme “Only one earth,”  with Ghana adopting the slogan, “Only One Earth”, Beat Plastic Pollution”.

The United Nations, during the Stockholm Conference in 1972 proclaimed June as the World Environment Day to highlight and create regular public awareness and education on emerging environmental issues.

The day will also serve as platform to engage people, communities, and governments around the world, and stimulate actions on critical environmental challenges facing the planet.

According to Dr Afriyie, the major problem confronting Ghana was the collection of single-use plastics also known as the under 20 microns plastics and its improper disposal.

He said over 30,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste are generated every day, with only 14 per cent  collected, 38 per cent  dumped in open spaces and 9 per cent dumped indiscriminately.

Dr Afriyie said, plastic wastes were becoming a major socio-economic developmental and environmental challenge which gravely impacts on biodiversity, tourism, infrastructure, fisheries, lands, and livelihoods.

“As a result of this situation, landscapes are immensely littered with plastic waste including nose masks, grocery store plastic bags, disposable plastic cups and takeout containers while beaches and oceans are equally polluted, chemical uptake in both plants and animals due to indiscriminate disposal methods,” he  said.

He said to ensure Ghana wins the fight against plastic pollution, the ministry in collaboration with key stakeholder institutions and its private sector partners would delineate the country into grades for proper collection, storage and recycling of plastics.

 He also mentioned that it would assign public and private collectors to collect and store plastic wastes; and implement a grid system of monitoring the collection and storing of the plastics. 

The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu in a speech read on his behalf said taking action on plastic waste was the only option to improve the country’s waste management issues.

 He came out with solutions to address the plastic menace and made a call for action by all stakeholders in the plastic main value chain to reduce the use of plastic materials especially, single use plastics.

Dr Kokofu called for the use of re-usable plastics materials to reduce plastic waste load in the environment, recover plastic waste for value addition and educate households on waste segregationfor recycling.

“We have to punish those who litter the environment with waste especially plastic waste, stop open burning of plastic waste which releases toxic chemicals into the environment and reuse them for other purposes,” he added.

BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU

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