An Entrepreneur and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AEA Packaging, Eric Kwame Adu who has earnestly launched a campaign dubbed “flush out plastic bags,” has begun the production of paper bags into the system in bid to make his vision a reality.
The AEA Packaging paper bags which are already in the system are coming as a better option to plastic bags which seem not only harmful to health but cause serious and irreparable damage to the environment.
The young entrepreneur, Eric Kwame Adu, in an interview explained that during his time at the University, he was nurturing the desire to create jobs for the youth in his community.
According to him, the unemployment rate among youth in his community and the menace of plastic bags taking over the country was worrying hence, he ventured into the production of paper bags as a sure solution to the plastic bag menace.
He said establishing a paper-bag manufacturing company that will address both problems, came at an opportune time when some other countries have taken a strong stance against plastic bags.
He said Ghana need to follow suit, at that must begin somewhere “It has to begin from AEA Packaging. That is what we have started here.”
Taking this Journalist on tour his facility where production of the paper bags is done, Eric Kwame Adu said during his time at the University of Development Studies (UDS), he made it a point to travel to various communities to study problems they face and plan solutions.
“So after University I was thinking of what my people, especially the youth can do to get out of this poverty issue. That is how come I came out with this initiative,” he explained.
He said he made series of research and with keen observation, came up with a business idea to produce paper bags which will not only solve the unemployment menace, but also solve a problem.
As to why he decided to enter into the paper bag business, Kwame Adu said plastic bags are swallowing communities across the country.
He said: “When plastic bags are thrown on land it makes soil less fertile. Plastic bags do not dissolve; they break into tiny pieces and remain for up to 1000 years contaminating soil waterways and oceans. We also know that Plastic bags slowly release toxic chemicals that certain animals use as a resource and when plastic is burned, they release toxic chemicals that are deposited in soil and surface water and on plants.”
The ban on polythene bags and plastic items is now spreading across the world; New Zealand Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags in 2002.
China, Israel, South Africa, the Netherlands, Morocco, Kenya, Rwanda, Mauritania, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Albania and Georgia have since implemented similar bans.
Other countries are experimenting with mandatory minimum charges or voluntary phase-outs for plastic bags.
However, plastic carry bags are still ubiquitous in the marketplace due to their dirt-cheap prices and reluctance of shoppers in carrying reusable bags while shopping.
But, Eric Kwame Adu believes that pricing as far as AEA Products are concerned, is not a factor for people not to patronize the products.
He said his products are cheap and convenient for use.
He indicated that when the final product came out, he did a market survey by asking how much people are willing to buy the product, revealing that prices were suggested, and GH¢1 was accepted.
According to him, his main focus is to ensure that every single market woman, porridge seller, plantain seller and fish seller use paper bags to wrap their goods for their customers.
He also revealed that his company has begun receiving orders from corporate organizations and individuals for parties and other social gatherings where gifts are given away.
Interestingly, his products are coming at a cheaper cost as compared to other imported paper bag products in the shops and supermarkets.
“I want to see, few years from now, that every street, every corner in Ghana has paper bag,” he said.
He said, plastic items have proliferated in our lives over the last few decades in all the spheres of our lives and unless there are cheap and reliable alternatives to plastics, it is really tough to remove them from our environment.
Paper bags have been used for packaging consumer goods for ages, but after the invasion of cheap polythene bags over the last three decades, their usage was reduced to a minimum.
He also revealed that although he received some financial support from government, there is still more to be done in areas of staffing.
According to him, currently the company has only six permanent staff. This, he said, is having some effect on production.
He said, he intends to expand the company to the point where they can be able to produce their own raw materials which will be used to manufacture the paper bags.
He said when that is done, the price may still reduce.
He is therefore calling for partnership from like-minded entrepreneurs who are willing to invest, make a change and solve a societal problem, to join him in that endeavor.
“My wish is that the price of the bags come down as low as 20 pesewas, so that it will rival the price at which polythene bags are sold. If that happens, all consumers will readily choose paper bags over polythene bags – and that will address the environmental challenges and also provide employment to many. But all these can be possible only if I have enough funds to buy machines for production,” he said.
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