Feature Article of Friday, 20 April 2012

Columnist: Nanjo, M. A.

We And Our Polythene

Polythene bags, we all know are used to package and bag many items including food. Such items are secured and portable in these rubber bags. The use of polythene for such an easy packaging also makes it possible for most people to handle food in such a hygienic way.

The fact that these ‘’for once’’ bags are useful does not make them the ultimate solution of the purpose for which they are used. It is because it is very easy to manufacture them, which has led to their abundance, that we think we must use them. We also think that the industries that manufacture them form part of the satisfaction that seems to quench our quest for industrial development. If care is not taken some industrial engagements will always necessitate the creation of other industries only to take care of their mess.
Our present situation is exactly the case. We are very proud to have got the industries that produce polythene bags. These industries have always done well for continuous production to fill our markets with their products, and for that matter to the reach of the even the poorest. Such an endeavor would have been a very great economic achievement. However, the behavior of most Ghanaians suggests the diversion of the efforts of the polythene industries. We have always failed to attest to the fact that it takes behavior to be a savior.
People defecate into these bags, just like the way they are used to rap food only to be thrown away at places where we live, work or even cook and eat. This has been the practice of the socially unfriendly people in our society. Most people also use them in place of other containers for many purposes and drop them anywhere after use. People use them to rap food even at home and throw them away anywhere after use.

All these litter our environment and create the numerous environmental problems that we encounter nowadays. Polythene bags and their associated wastes could form almost 80% of the many refuse heaps nationwide, most especially in the cities. When trying to properly dispose them of at far places, they go to cover the very needed fertile top soil on which we get our sustenance. They do not easily rot and continuously destroy our agricultural land. Even the resources that must send this rubbish to those places to cause us this agricultural loss are not available. Creating another industry to take care of this rubbish in the form of recycling cannot give a holistic approach to the problem. This is because people will not use polythene the right way and dispose them of at the right points for easy collection to be recycled.
The economic agonies that Ghana suffers as regards waste management cannot be elaborated by an individual. More and more people can be employed to sweep streets and gutters every morning, rubbish will continue to fly about and chock our gutters as before. Sending people to technologically and economically developed nations to come back and solve our waste management problems can hardly yield the intended purpose if Ghanaians do not change their ways of thinking and doing things.
From my own analysis of the situation, it reveals to me one sustainable way to get control of the situation. There could be a legislation banning the production of polythene bags out rightly, as done in some countries. The much rubber that we produce could be diverted to the production of plastic containers, like food flasks and the like to take care the need for polythene bags. This once and for all, but seemingly harsh solution can save Ghana from economic wastages, the hazardous health implications and the agricultural damages.
M.A. Nanjo
Wa Dondoli