By Agnes Ansah/Sophia Prince
The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Prof Frimpong Boateng, has indicated that the Ministry is not considering a wholesale ban on plastics, because a total ban will not be in the interest of the country.
He said that lots of people depend on plastic for their activities, hence, a total ban won’t be good, rather the Ministry is rather looking at ways of collecting about 60% of the plastic at source, segregating and transporting them to recycling centers for economic gain.
“We are not in favour of wholesale ban because it will not be in favour of our nation. Plastics are used in all areas of the economy, including agriculture for the nursing of seedlings, in medicine for the packaging of blood and medicine, for sterilisation of equipment and so on, so a wholesale ban will not be in our interest.”
The Minister made the comment in Parliament when responding to a statement on plastic waste management.
The statement, which was read by Mr Clement Apaak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bulsa South, indicated that plastic pollution has negative effects on marine life. He said research had revealed that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
He said this would have negatively affect Ghana for two main reasons. First of all, about 2.6 million fishermen in the country will be affected, and which will greatly reflect negatively on the economy.
Food security is another aspect of life that will be affected by the rapid loss of marine life caused by ocean pollution, he said.
Fish are a staple food in Ghana, and without it, the country will be even more dependent on foreign aid.
This dependence means that food security in Ghana will be vulnerable to market conditions, foreign relations, and other factors. The fishing industry in Ghana supplies 60% of all seafood consumed here, so it is a very important industry to protect.
Upon these revelations, most members of parliament who contributed to the debate suggested a total ban on the use of plastic materials.
But Prof. Frimpong Boateng said that a total ban would have extremely negative effects on the people of Ghana, many of who get all of their water from bottles and sachets, package their food in plastics, and make a livelihood off of plastic products, although he agreed that the ban would be most effective.
He said: “There are components of plastics in most of the materials and gadgets we use, so we are thinking about managing plastic, in terms of the circular economy.”
He, however, said: “There are few items that we can ban. For instance, we can easily ban plastic carrier bags, cutlery, straws, gums, plastic in cosmetics, and that won’t be a big problem because they won’t affect our health and the economy.”
He said that the company was faced with the problem of an alternative for plastic. He said the ministry is looking for a substance that will be in the position to carry fluid then the idea of a total ban would be considered.
He said that currently, the ministry had empowered some two groups of people to recycle plastics into useful materials.
He indicated that there is a company in Pokuase that is converting plastic into petrol and diesel, and is making a lot of money by selling the diesel to some mining companies. There is also another group that’s converting the plastic into pavement stones, which is very useful in road construction, he said.
Aside this, the ministry was putting together some documents that would ensure issues of plastics are dealt with in detail. “We don’t want to make a law that would be difficult to change; we want a document that can be upgraded from time to time,” and called on the government to support the ministry to deal with plastic in a safer way.