You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 08 16Article 570216

Opinions of Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Columnist: Abraham Frank Eshun

From ‘waste-bin-to-cash’ an answer to Ghana’s urban waste management woes

The issue of efficient waste management in the country especially in the urban centers has been highlighted as one of the existing challenges threatening our health and environment.

In Accra, some communities like Abogbloshie, Kaneshie, Makola market, gutters, streams, lagoons and water bodies are choked with garbage, plastic bottles and sachets, solid and liquid waste and fecal material, discharging a foul stench in polluting the environment and causing diseases like cholera and others.

Consequently, Waste management in contemporary years has become a key part of campaign promises of political parties in the country due to the precarious impacts the waste; that could be serving as raw materials, for other products through recycling has on the lives of the citizenry.

For example, Ga East Municipal Assembly not too long ago receiving threats from residents near the landfill site close to Abokobi in Accra, resulting in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) giving the assembly an ultimatum to close down the dumpsite because of the environmental and health hazards the site was posing to residents.

According to Prof. Christopher Gordon, the Director of Institute of Environment and Sanitation of the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana lost 300 million dollars annually because waste could not be turned into resources and also because of poor sanitation delivery by the local assemblies and the delay in accessing sanitation facilities especially in the cities.

He added that “We have not made any serious attempt to maximize the benefits we get from waste and this has resulted in solid waste being an albatross around the neck of MMDAs”.

Prof. Gordon recommended that Ghana should learn from the Philippines and Sweden where “These two countries have generated fuel and energy, respectively, from waste to power their homes, to the extent that they import waste from other countries and transform it into energy”.

With these effects, the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pledged to make Accra the neatest and best city in Africa by the end of his first term of office.

According to him, “The commitment we are making and which I want you all to make with me is that by the time we end our four-year term, Accra is going to be the cleanest city in Africa.”

Moreover, It will be extremely imperative for the president to integrate recycling plants especially in the urban centers that has been always engulf with garbage in his 1 (one) district 1(one) factory policy. He should also ensure (PPP) private partnership participation so that the producers themselves can sell the waste materials to the companies from their waste bins, for cash as now being practiced by the scrap dealers.

Through the recycling, some of the waste materials could be also turn into fertilizer to augment the plant for food and jobs programme in order to boost our agriculture sector which is also our prevalent foreign exchange earner.

Further, our waste management problem is not only the fault of producers alone but it is obviously the fault of an economy that is wasteful from top to bottom. This is because if our waste could not be turn into other resources locally, does that means also that we cannot gather the waste materials from our waste bins and export it to those countries who are in exigent needs of these resources for foreign exchange?.

In order not to forget, according to solid waste management experts, the “Three Rs” that stand for “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle” are the three basic principles applied in modern waste management.

“Reduce” simply means to minimize the generation of domestic, commercial and industrial solid waste in the communities. “Reuse” in the other words, used for putting something that is considered useless into use over or again by adding some value to it.

“Recycle” is to transform or treat something that cannot be reused into a useful material, for example, turning solid waste into compost or fertilizer.

Among these three principles, to the best of my knowledge, it is very obvious that recycling is the best principle that could be used in solving the country’s indiscriminate piling of refuse within the cities. This is because it is the only waste management principle that attracts the waste producers to sell from their trash bin for cash.

Truly, recycling of waste in Ghana is the answer to poor waste management in our urban centers in a sense that everybody loves money and comfort in our communities and in the process of emptying your waste bin that you are supposed to pay a fee before; for a cash now, in a moment will be convenient for citizens to help solve the sanitation problem.

It will also reduce the economic pressure on the MMDAs in a sense that the Assemblies always spend mammoth money to acquire waste dumpsites and other waste management tools that do not last ever and these sites also cause foul stench in polluting the surrounding environment that create discomfort to the closer residents.

Recycling is good as Barry Commoner said "Recycling is a good thing to do. It makes people feel good to do it and it is the purpose of solving the trash problem."