Business to join government in the battle to manage solid waste
By Olu Sarr
ACCRA 19 Oct - With some African cities close to choking on garbage, government and private sector partnerships say they are ready to clean up then recycle the mess, thereby protecting millions of urban residents while creating jobs and earning business profit.
“Waste recycling is evidently being practised by the private sector and could be supported to a greater extent by the government, international agencies and other interested parties,” Yvonne Idun, a waste management consultant to the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) project, said Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, when opening a roundtable meeting on the opportunities in waste recycling.
GCLME Coordinator Stephen Donkor; UNIDO Representative to Ghana and Togo Francis Bartels; and Peter Dery, representing Ghana Environment Minister Sherry Ayittey, also addressed the meeting. The delegates from Cote d’Ivoire, Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are here to learn from each other and form alliances in the waste management business.
The three-day meeting will also enable business and government leaders to learn of the best environmental practices and technology available in Ghana which, with external help, could be copied by other countries participating in the GCLME project. A major aim of the meeting is to set up a network of enterprises and agencies involved in waste recycling. This would allow for a coordinated approach to solving the garbage problem in many cities and towns. The proposed network and the roundtable are just two outcomes of the Guinea Current Commission/UNIDO project to halt the depletion of living resources and degradation of coastal areas by application of ecosystem-based regional actions.
"UNIDO not only pays particular attention to the ways in which waste is collected and disposed of, but is also focusing in-depth on the ways which waste is being recycled, so as to derive some value from these substances,” Donkor said.
Broadly, waste in Ghana is generated by industry, agriculture, hospitals and households. Additionally, though, Ghana, with its two seaports, receives tons of waste from ships calling at port. In terms of volume ships at the Port of Tema alone disgorge some 100 cubic metres of liquid waste monthly. Nationally, Ghana’s wastes are increasingly made up of cocoa shells, plastics, foods, used paper and used glass. Rising populations is pushing the amount of waste produced. Some of the waste produced may be hazardous due to their toxic contents. These substances include used fluorescent tubes that contain mercury.
“The more harmful wastes which are destined for disposal could, altogether, inflict rather harmful effects on human health and the environment,” Francis Bartels, the UNIDO representative in Ghana and Togo, told the delegates.
This, he added, was because these wastes contain cadmium, lead, asbestos, acidic wastes, plutonium and Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls which, when inhaled, “cause cancer, physical paralysis, chemical burns and other sicknesses in human beings”.
When these wastes reach the sea, rivers and lakes, they kill fish and other marine life. Moreover, they pollute drinking water sources of many Ghanaians.
The Ghana The Ghana The Ghana The Ghana Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and the Environmental Protection Agency wants to neutralize these potential killers. The ministry and agency are working to create an integrated sustainable management system to collect, dispose and recycle waste for profit. The aim is to mainstream these interventions into national programmes as well as metropolitan, municipal and district plans. Additionally, Peter Dery, representing Ghana’s minister of the environment, said other measures will be needed in the battle against garbage.