Accra, May 13, GNA - Ms. Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and Science, on Friday launched a programme dubbed, "Operation Chase the Plastics" in Accra with a call on all to desist from littering the metropolis with plastic waste. Ms Churcher further called on city authorities to vigorously enforce bye-laws and embark on anti-littering campaigns to clear the filth.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister noted that no Ministry or government institution could handle the plastic waste menace alone and stressed the need to involve children in the campaign against plastic waste to sensitise them on good environmental practices.
Despite the problems associated with plastic waste, she said, plastic had become an indispensable part of peoples' lives as in certain applications it had the edge over conventional materials. "Their lightweight, durability, energy efficiency, faster rate of production and greater flexibility are some of the characteristics that have won it some acclaim. However, the ability of this seemingly benign material to create environmental disaster is enormous."
Ms Churcher said plastics chocked gutters and drains, creating a nightmare for sewerage engineers. "It even ends up in the bellies of terrestrial scavengers, like cows, dogs and goats who fancy the left-over wrapped with plastics before discarding them." Mentioning some of the lessons from some countries, the Minister mentioned that imposition of levies on plastics and banning of plastics of less than 30 and 100 microns.
She therefore called for a second look at the ban of plastic bags of less than 30 microns thickness and the proposal to impose a levy on raw materials and the revenue paid into a special fund that would address the problem.
"Continuous research and scientific advancement have shown that it is possible to produce biodegradable plastics." The Minister urged producers to shift their attention to the import and production of the biodegradable plastics.
She said her ministry would continue to liaise, consult and dialogue with other ministries "to see which combination of options offers the best opportunities for achieving the objectives of chasing the plastic and other waste in the country."
Ms. Churcher urged sellers of iced water to carry waste bags and advise consumers to leave their empty sachets in bins mounted in the city.
The Minister asked the police and members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union to ensure that the order for the provision of bins were complied with.
"These things will go a long way in helping to reduce the wide spread aesthetic and material damage being caused to our environment by discarded plastics," she added.
Mr Edward Osei Nsenkyire, Chief Director, Ministry of Environment and Science, expressed regret that Ghana had no legislation on the plastic waste and stressed the need for concrete actions to deal with plastic waste management.
"It is my sincere hope that today's programme will mark the beginning of the end to the various attempts to find a lasting solution to the plastic waste menace. We all must resolve to make the campaign work," the Chief Director said.
Mr Devine Otoo, Chairman of National Plastic Waste Management Taskforce, noted that no matter the amount of money pumped into waste collection and management, the problem would not get any better without education.
"It is therefore crucial that a greater focus is directed on education. If people stop littering and plastic waste is disposed of into bins, its management will become easier."
He said under the "Operation Chase the Plastics," 2,000 people would be employed to collect waste in the metropolis.
On May 21, the picking of plastic waste would be embarked upon and the plastic sent to a firm for export.