The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) is putting together a legal framework to compel companies that use plastic packaging to assume some responsibility in the collection and recycling of plastic waste.
The law will make the Extended Producer Responsibility Principle (EPR) mandatory for such companies and compel them to establish plastic collection centres as part of their marketing arrangements to rid the environment off plastics.
Data from the Ghana Plastic Manufacturers Association indicate that 87 per cent of industries in Ghana use plastic packaging.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency at a workshop on Marine Litter and Mircoplastics in Accra on Wednesday, Mrs Lydia Essuah, Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, MESTI, said the current EPR regime was voluntary and thus companies complied at will.
She said the country must adopt what she described as the “polluter pay principle” to ensure that companies that used plastic packaging were responsible for the collection.
“The private sector has started their own process but that is voluntary. To be able to achieve higher levels of collection and recycling and for us to get rid of plastics, we need to make the EPR system mandatory.
“We are working on legal backing to make it mandatory so that we will move from the current voluntary into mandatory regime to ensure that once you put out a plastic product on the market, you are mandated by law to collect it,” Mrs Essuah said.
Mrs Essuah said the Ministry had adopted a “partnership approach” where the private sector would play key role in plastic waste management.
She said financing was a major challenge in the sector and indicated that the Ministry would collaborate with the private sector to explore avenues to address those challenges.
In Ghana, some 120 companies manufacture over 52,000 tonnes of various plastics and plastics products per year, according to the Ghana Plastic Waste Management Policy Document.
According to the Document, more than one million tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, suggesting that domestic manufacturing accounts for less than 5 per cent of all plastics in the country.
It is estimated that out of one million tonnes of plastics produced in Ghana annually, only 10 per cent is recycled, with nine per cent leaking into the ocean.
The workshop discussed lessons learnt from the implementation of a project dubbed: “Marine Litter and Microplastics: promoting the environmentally sound management of plastic waste and achieving the prevention and minimisation of the generation of plastic waste in Ghana”.
The Project was implemented by MESTI in collaboration with its partners, including the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions.
Mrs Essuah said through the Project, the team discovered how sea weeds could be used to develop plastic bags, which is environmentally sustainable.
She said the team had also identified useful information on how and what legal frameworks should be set up to guide sustainable use of plastics in the country.
Ms Tatiana Terekhova, Programmes Management Officer at the BRS Conventions Secretariat, urged Ghana to strengthen its legal framework to control plastic waste.
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