Ghana to introduce law mandating companies to set up plastic waste collection systems

GHANA – The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) is putting together a legal framework to compel companies that use plastic packaging to assume some responsibility in the collection and recycling of plastic waste.

According to the authorities, the law will make the Extended Producer Responsibility Principle (EPR) mandatory for such companies and compel them to establish plastic collection centers as part of their marketing arrangements to rid the environment off plastics.

Data from the Ghana Plastic Manufacturers Association indicate that 87 percent of industries in Ghana use plastic packaging.

Mrs. Lydia Essuah, Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, MESTI, said the current EPR regime was voluntary and thus companies complied at will, reports Ghana News Agency.

She said the country must adopt what she described as the “polluter pay principle” to ensure that companies that used plastic packaging were responsible for the collection.

“The private sector has started their own process but that is voluntary. To be able to achieve higher levels of collection and recycling and for us to get rid of plastics, we need to make the EPR system mandatory,” explains Mrs. Essuah.

“We are working on legal backing to make it mandatory so that we will move from the current voluntary into mandatory regime to ensure that once you put out a plastic product on the market, you are mandated by law to collect it.”

Mrs. Essuah added that the Ministry had adopted a “partnership approach” where the private sector would play a key role in plastic waste management.

In Ghana, some 120 companies manufacture over 52,000 tonnes of various plastics and plastics products per year, according to the Ghana Plastic Waste Management Policy Document.

According to the Document, more than one million tonnes of plastic waste are generated yearly, suggesting that domestic manufacturing accounts for less than 5 percent of all plastics in the country.

Elsewhere, Dr. Andrews Agyekumhene, a Marine and Fisheries Science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon, said the plastic waste menace could be managed if the state enforced the plastic policy.

 According to him, plastic-producing companies would be made to pay levies if the policy is enforced and that would help rid the environment of huge volumes of plastic that has engulfed most urban areas, especially in Accra.

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