Tackling Plastic Pollution: What Ghana Should Do as the World Celebrates Earth Day 2018

One of the devastating environmental problems in the world that is destroying its natural resources at an alarming rate in this 21st century is plastic pollution. There is a widespread use of plastic for domestic, industrial and commercial activities. It is estimated that humans produce more than 350 million tons of plastic waste every year on a global scale. It is estimated that one-third of global plastic waste comes from the packaging of products. These plastics are very difficult to decompose and eventually become ghosts that haunt people’s lives. The degradation life of most of these plastics ranges from 50 years to 600 years! Unfortunately, many of these plastics are very destructive and are destroying our rivers, oceans, forests and biodiversity. The health consequences of plastic waste on human and animal life cannot be ignored. Inhalation of burnt plastic waste causes a variety of respiratory diseases that take many lives at rates much higher than the deadly HIV/AIDS. Direct and indirect ingestion of plastic pollutants in water bodies causes slow drowning, Amoebic Dysentery, Giardiasis and other crucial diseases. Due to the destructive nature of plastic pollution, many international organizations, conservation agencies and governments are considering efficient strategies to stop plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is huge in developing countries like Ghana. Besides the locally produced plastic pollutants, Ghana imports over 100,000 metric tons of plastic products each year. Many of these plastics are becoming destructive pollutants in the Ghanaian environment. Ghana has to devise ways to arrest the canker of plastic pollution. One way is to sensitize the people of Ghana to the negative health effects of plastics through environmental education programmes. The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation should be given the task of sensitizing the mass media to plastic pollution and conducting education programs. The government should completely ban plastic products containing high levels of antioxidants, while reducing imports of plastic products. The major campaign for the use of biodegradable materials as alternatives to plastics should be intensified. Food processing companies and fast food vendors must engage in dialogue to start using biodegradable or organic packaging for their food. Great lessons can be drawn from the biodegradable leaf plates currently used in India. Food scientists and engineers should be assisted with funding to develop and produce sustainable locally produced biodegradable packaging for their food.

Another innovative way to tackle plastic pollution in Ghana is to promote the transformation of plastic waste into creative and usable products. This will turn deadly plastic pollutants into economic gains for the country. Technological departments in Ghanaian educational institutions as well as relevant companies should be assisted to participate in intensive plastics recycling projects. Lessons can be learned from EcoDomum Company in Mexico, which produces residential products through the recycling of plastics. Artists engaged in installation art and other innovative artistic projects using plastic waste should be assisted through government funding. In addition, the government of Ghana must mandatorily instruct companies that produce most of their plastic waste to find ways to recycle their plastic waste or risk going out of business. To encourage food and beverage companies in Ghana to recycle their plastic waste, taxes on imports of plastics recycling machinery should be removed or reduced.

Polluter payment policy should be improved by increasing fines or fines especially for plastic waste. This will increase the flexible nature of government laws on plastic pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency should be prosecuted by appointing sanitary inspectors to report individuals, households or industries that pollute the environment with their plastic waste and dispose of their plastic waste improperly. The government should pass a law as part of environmental laws to arrest and prosecute anyone who indiscriminately throws plastic waste on Ghana’s streets, gutters and the like. The government of Ghana should cooperate with traditional authorities in various Ghanaian communities and entrust them with the responsibility of creating and enforcing environmental regulations to combat the threat of plastic pollution in their jurisdiction. Some countries are funding scientific studies aimed at producing Genetically Modified Organisms that can feed plastics and break them down in relatively quicker timeframes, weeks. Ghana might consider funding similar work, all aimed at tackling plastic pollution.

This is the time when Ghana must join hands with the world in the fight against plastic pollution cancer. The Ghana government should reduce plastic imports; Funding projects for the recycling of plastic waste and the production of GMOs for the consumption of plastic waste, while promoting the use of biodegradable materials, particularly as packaging for products. In addition, the government should strengthen environmental laws and prosecutions for plastic pollution, while intensifying environmental education on the dangers of plastic pollution. These strategies will help save the environment of Ghana, save the world that is the home and eternal treasure for all biological species.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *