Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, said the country is sinking in the sea of plastics and will not hesitate to criminalise aspects of plastic production and usage.
He said the Government was working with stakeholders and would apply all forms of strategies to deal with the situation to protect the people and the environment.
“The menace is not very visible in the southern part due to the green vegetation but in the northern part, it is an eyesore. Although this plastic issue is not peculiar to Ghana, plastics, especially, the single-used, have permeated into every facet of human endeavour and are causing damage,” he said.
The Minister, who was speaking to journalists after a visit to some recycling companies in Accra – Mini Plast Ltd and Dophil Roofing System – said government would not hesitate to impose a limited ban on some categories when necessary.
For the plastic litters, he said the current laws would be assessed and where needed legislation would be enacted to make indiscriminate disposal of plastics unattractive through noncustodial sentences, a punishment given by a court of law other than a term of imprisonment or a fine.
“At the policy end we are doing well but the weakness is at the implementation side. Efforts are underway to ensure a well-coordinated approach to deal with the situation,” he said.
Dr Afriyie said Cabinet recently approved Ghana’s National Plastics Management Policy (NPMP), which had received international collaboration to translate the policy objectives into actual comprehensive managed plastics to address current environmental challenges and serve as a vehicle for sustainable development.
The main objective of the NPMP is to grow the economy, create jobs and protect the environment to propel development.
The policy had also been developed as a road map to progressively reduce the usage, recovery, recycling and re-manufacturing of plastics.
The Minsiter said based on the NPMP’s objective to tackle the menace of plastics pollution, Ghana was selected as the first African regional partner of the Global Plastic Action Partnership in 2019.
Dr Kwaku Adjepong, the Chief Executive Officer of Dophil Roofing System, said the company was poised to address one of the critical challenges the housing sector faced to make housing affordable.
The company, through extensive research, had introduced a new range of eco-friendly roofing solutions named Ecophils Roofing Tiles.
Mr Nadim Ghanem Jr, the Chief Executive Officer of Mini Plast, said his company recycled plastics to produce high quality, custom-made packaging solutions to its industrial customers, including those in?the food and confectionery sector and paints industry.
In Africa, less than 20 per cent of plastics are recycled currently, far below the European Union targets of 50 per cent by 2025.
In lieu of formal recycling operations, waste pickers collect litter and sell it to middlemen, who aggregate plastic waste and sell it to recyclers abroad.
About 2.58 million metric tonnes of raw plastics are imported into Ghana annually, of which 73 per cent effectively ends up as waste, while only 19 per cent is re-used, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.