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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Columnist: Kwarkye, Nana Abena Afriyie

Who says recycling is a bad idea?

By: Nana Abena Afriyie Kwarkye

How many of you are familiar with the term recycle? I believe that, at least many computer users have come across the recycle bin before. I have therefore made an attempt to break down the term. In simply terms, recycle is the process of treating used or waste materials so as to make them suitable for reuse.

There are other definitions which points to the same meaning. To recycle means to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature. In short, recycle is to use again.

Globally, environmentalists have advocated for the recycle of most things especially paper so as to save trees. The reason is that, they are living up to the saying that when the last tree dies, the last man also does same. Most recycled papers end up in our homes as toilet rolls and tissues which is also useful. The philosophy of recycling is to discourage waste. Instead, it transforms materials into other useful forms for reuse. This indeed should be applauded.

Have you noticed that some people especially in the capital Accra have made it their business collecting used sachet water rubbers? I used to wonder the need for it apart from ridding the city of filth. My curiosity led me to find out by asking a few questions. I was surprised to hear that it was meant for sale. Why on earth will someone buy these used polythene, I asked? To my surprise, there is demand for it because it is recycled into bags, wallets, sandals and the like.

I really wanted to feed my eyes so I did more research and I saw it with my own eyes the recycled products. I was amazed to see what use can come out of the used sachet water rubber. Apart from sweeping the city of filth, it also prevents flooding since the collection of the used product will prevent the choking of drains which eventually causes flooding during rainy days. Good job done guys.

Another thing that has also caught my attention is the reuse of the 1liter and 500ml mineral water bottles. When you take a tour of any market in Ghana, you are sure to see these bottles being used to package cooking oil for sale.

My concern with this practice is the fact that the content of the bottle end up in our stomachs. How well are these bottles washed before they end up as recycled products? What kind of treatment do these women who buy the bottles for reuse take the products (bottles) through?

Has it ever crossed your mind where they get these bottles from? Your guess is as good as mine. The same way the used sachet water rubbers are obtained for reuse. Some go to the extent of picking the used bottles from the dumping sites for sale, how pathetic!

Last month, TV3 reported in their evening news bulletin on a group of scavengers who picked plastic waste from the sea for sale when it rains. When they were interviewed on the use of the things they were busily picking, the revelation was that it was for sale?

The most alarming aspect is that, some of these bottles end up being used to package iced kenkey, ‘brukena’ (mixture of millet and fresh milk) for sale. I can only advice that the next time you stop to have a refreshment of your favorite iced kenkey or any kind of on the go meal in a recycled bottle, think again.

Who even said recycling is a bad idea? I never did!!