THE Head of Environmental Analysis of the Africa Environmental Sanitation Consult (AFES) has said that waste prevention is key to finding solutions to the environmental problems of Africa and the world at large. This, he said, would reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill, which is gradually becoming a big problem for society.
“Prevention of waste is very important, waste management companies and the local government authorities can educate the citizenry to reduce the volumes of waste generated by making sure they do not patronise single use items,” he said, adding, “Items that you use once and have to throw away contribute immensely to the volume of waste at the final disposal site.”
Dr Yahaya Yakubu also said society could help government manage waste effectively by buying in bulk. He said all over the world, bulk buying was used to help in waste reduction.
“For instance if you want to buy already cooked food and five people buy together, it could be put in the same packaging and at the end of the day, very little waste will be generated compared to buying individually.”
According to Dr Yakubu, manufacturers of goods also have a key role to play in waste management and waste reduction through the use of effective but minimal packaging.
Again when households reuse items bought or containers containing items, they end up reducing what has to go to the landfill.
According to Dr Yahaya, due to the scarcity of land, it is becoming increasingly difficult for government to find places to use as landfill sites with all its social and environmental impacts making material recovery and composting a key issue in waste management.
“If a landfill which has a five-year capacity of 1000 tonnes has material recovery and composting plant on site, it means the landfill can extend from five to 25 years if 80 per cent of the bulk waste is recovered and recycled.”
It is against this background that he lauded the recently commissioned Jospong Group’s 20-million dollar Integrated Recycling and Compost Plant (IRECOP).
The Integrated Recycling and Compost Plant, also known as “Accra Waste Recovery Park”,
has 80 per cent waste recovery rate and the capacity to handle 800 tonnes of solid waste on a 16-hour shift .
The plant is designed to additionally process about 200 tonnes of compost per day.
Studies show that the over 60 tonnes of compost that would be produced daily per plant could displace over 864,000 bags of chemical fertilisers imported annually into Ghana.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 12 promotes Responsible Consumption and Production.
The United Nations in Ghana through its website goes further to educate Ghanaians to reduce, reuse, recycle products and wastes. “Every one of us can consume responsibly. Reduce your waste and your consumption of plastic, one of the main pollutants of the ocean, “ the UN in Ghana states.
According to the United Nations, the recycling of paper, plastic, glass and aluminum keeps landfills from growing. “Someone’s waste is someone else’s business opportunity in waste management and recycling,” says the UN.
The UN further advises Ghanaians and Ghanaian businesses to not litter the environment with waste; use their innovative power to design solutions that can both enable and inspire individuals to lead more sustainable lifestyles, reduce environmental impacts and improve well-being.
It also encourages businesses to adopt sustainable production practices. For example, the use of traditional, improved variety of planting materials, or improved food processing, while urging both public and private sectors to adopt green procurement, meaning purchasing products and services that cause minimal adverse environmental impacts.
The Jospong Group of companies since 2006 has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of waste that ends up at the landfills.
These include the establishment of the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant in 2012 which processes organic waste into manure for agricultural purposes. Another major compost Plant is also being established in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region to help reduce the waste there through the processing of the organic portions of the waste and waste recovery of other reusable items.
“UPPR Ghana Limited is recycling plastics, for the reproduction of waste bins while the Integrated Waste which came on board this year is looking at all materials in the waste stream in all 16 regions that can be recovered and recycled for the population to use” Dr Yakubu explained.