Over the years, attempts have been made by various governments to ban the use of single-use plastics, such as ‘pure water’ sachets, shopping bags, and water bottles.
The closer the country came to banning plastics was in 2015, when the government, placed a ban on light plastic materials with less than 20 microns (one millionth of a metre in terms of density): such as the ones used in packaging sugar, gari and porridge.
According to the minister of Environment, Innovation Science and Technology, Mahama Ayariga, who made the announcement, “Every plastic that is produced for packaging, you have to put a biodegradable material in it so that the plastic that would be produced would be biodegradable.”
Mahama Ayariga insisted, “After 90 days [starting from August 1] no plastic should be in the market unless it is biodegradable.”
“The ones that they put Gari, kulikuli, those products – the plain, transparent ones – you see that they are so light and when the wind blows they float, it’s because they have very low microns and they are so light so managing it is so difficult so we need to increase the micron level.”
According to a study, Ghana generated 302,192 kg/day of plastic waste in 2015, and 81percent of the waste was inadequately managed (plastic waste dumped in uncontrolled landfills). This did not include ‘littered’ plastic waste.
The move by the previous government never saw the light of day, as the directive was never seen through.
We have gone full circle and the situation is getting worse by the day. With the onset of the rains, comes with its attendant trepidation and anxiety.
We have experienced perennial flooding, which comes with the loss of lives and property. Lurking behind the flooding is the indiscriminate disposal of waste, especially plastics, which has choked our drains.
We at this newspaper implore the government to engage owners and managers of big supermarkets, like the Game, Koala, Melcom, Palace Shopping Mall, Shoprite, etc, as well as notable restaurants such as Papaye, KFC etc, to start using paper bag to serve their customers.
To avoid the huge but preventable losses that the country will encounter in the future, because for now we are faced with challenges of flooding, the unforeseen challenges can be deadly than we currently experience, we believe all hands must be on deck.
Legislation, will not help, as there are sentimental, as well as economic issues at play, we have to devise clever means to curb plastic pollution.
We are of the considered opinion that, gradually we can face single-used plastics out of the country, as it is in Rwanda.