The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office under the UK Government, as part of UK Aid and under its Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) program, has given about £1 million to Blue Skies Holdings Limited in Ghana to provide solutions to sustainability challenges posed by plastic waste in the country.
The project would be implemented by Blue Skies Company limited and UK retailer Waitrose & Partners in collaboration with the University of Northampton Centre for Sustainable Business Practices through the industry Research and Development Hub. The project dubbed ‘Fresh Produce Impact Hub (FRESHPPACT)’ will be implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
According to UK Government, the project will be carried out in three phases, focusing initially on the use of plastic in farming (agricultural mulch), packaging, and work-wear. Meanwhile, the solutions may include new technology and business models that mitigate plastic pollution through material substitution, accelerated biodegradation and improved manufacturing and remanufacturing processes.
Speaking at the launch of the FRESHPPACT at Blue Skies in Nsawam located in Eastern of Ghana, Dr. Ebenezer Laryea, a Senior Lecturer at Northampton University, Department of Business and Law, stated the volume of plastic waste generated by the country is huge but only insignificant volume is recycled.
“Ghana Produces about 1.1 million tonnes of Plastic and we recycle only about 5% of that. So with that kind of recycling effort, it means that it is very minimal. This means 95% of the plastic that is not recycled either ends up at landfills or our Oceans where it ends up in fishes in form of micro-plastics. We eat the fish so eventually, the plastic comes back to us and it is a major issue in terms of the health of the population.”Dr. Ebenezer Laryea
Effects of Plastic Pollution
Touching on December 2021 UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization report that there is an evidence of the need for better management of the millions of tonnes of plastics used in the food and farming system each year, Dr Ebenezer Laryea stressed that plastic pollution has a serious effect on soil fertility and food security at large.
“UN recent report has said that there is more Plastic in our soil than in the oceans and if that trend continues, we are going to reach a point where there is a threat to our food security and a threat to our food security is a threat to our livelihood and lives as individuals. It is also a threat to the country as a whole. So, this is a major problem. What we looking to achieve is to collaborate with researchers and industrial partners, so that together, we can find solutions to plastic waste and plastic pollution.”Dr. Ebenezer Laryea
Dr Laryea called on policymakers to intensify public education and awareness on proper waste management practices to cause behavioural change.
The Project Manager of the Ghana Recycling Initiatives, a Private Enterprise, Louisa Kaboba, explained that currently some 14 companies are under the initiative and ensuring that as many plastics as possible will be eliminated from the environment. She added that since 2017, the organization has been able to collect about 3000 tons of plastics that may have found their way into the oceans and other parts of the environment.
Louisa Kaboba, therefore, lauded the Fresh Produce Impact Hub project, hoping it will have positive impact on environmental sustainability.