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When Good Deeds Turn Bad

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Walking through the streets of Accra, one is likely to find a lot of plastic waste all over. Our gutters are choked with plastic, our rivers are engulfed with them and our streets are not left alone, plastic waste farflung in every corner.

The main causal factor of this plastic waste influx is poor human attitude. This inappropriate disposal of plastic waste results in massive floods, outbreak of disease, etc.

One of the major contributing factor to the June 3rd flood was chocked gutters. It is indisputable that disease outbreaks are also caused by inapt plastic waste disposal. The effects strike a cord.

According to health officials, the 2014 cholera outbreak in Ghana hit a record of 17,000 cases with 150 deaths.

Unfortunately something we could have avoided. I will not be surprised if in the near future Ghana decides to go the ‘Rwanda way’ by banning the use of plastics if producers fail to properly manage plastic waste.

With Ghana being submerged with plastic waste I was euphoric when I heard about REPATRN Limited, a company that has partnered with Environment 360 Ghana on their recycling program.

Under the partnership REPATRN Limited buys plastic waste collected by Environment 360 and proceeds are used to fund environmental education for children throughout Ghana.

This is indeed a laudable initiative by REPATRN Limited and I commend them for that.
The disposal site of REPATRN Limited is located not to far from the Kpone Barrier. Giving a vivid description of the current status of the site, it is over flown with bags filled to the brim with plastic waste.

Some overflowing on the streets and others toppling over the sites wall with flies hoovering all over amid pungent smell. The effect of the company’s yet another inappropriate disposal of waste has caused a lot of pest infestations and awful smell to the detriment of employees within the area.

Companies adjacent REPATRN Limited a couple of months ago had their staff complain about insect bites, flies and foul smell, which they suspected was due to the possible fermentation of the plastic waste.

The companies have fumigated continuously but the issue remains.

Now I wonder if REPATRN Limited’s intention to reduce plastic waste on the streets of Ghana is for the better of Ghana or another causal factor to a different problem. What is the essence of buying these plastic waste and packing them at a dumpsite for months and serving as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies who are a major contributor to the spreading of cholera.

Should the collection of plastic waste in the name of recycling be to the detrimental of Ghanaians due to pungent smells and brooding of mosquitoes and flies?

Is this overflowing of plastic waste as a result of inadequate funds to recycle them as was the intent or just poor management decisions on the part of the company. What can we do to avert this situation?

What baffles me is the role of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Kpone Municipal Assembly who have all been informed and they visited the place to inspect. They all said they will revert with a solution but none of the groups have gotten back with a positive direction to forestall the status quo.

Now, there is no dispute that collection of plastic waste by individuals off the streets is a great idea and an innovative way of making money if you will ask me.

That notwithstanding, my question is should the solving of one problem be a causal factor to another problem?  Going forward, I think the various plastic companies should consider the introduction of re-usable friendly plastics, government investing in recycling, instituting the culture of waste separation and segregation and putting in place other incentives that will encourage plastic buy-back at shopping malls and other places and public awareness campaigns to change the attitude of the people to the handling of plastic and other wastes.

 

By Suzy Ansah (Public Relations Executive, Toyota Ghana Co. Ltd)

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