Caterers and food and beverage industry stakeholders have been urged to be ardent ambassadors and change agents in the country’s fight against plastic pollution.
The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie, who made the call when he addressed caterers in Accra on Thursday said the menace has a serious impact on human life.
He noted that food vendors package food in plastic bags, which are discarded indiscriminately, causing pollution across the country, particularly in major cities like Accra.
The Minister charged caterers to switch to environmentally friendly and healthier methods of packing their services for their customers to save the government the huge amount of money spent on managing plastic waste, which could be redirected into other developmental efforts.
He advocated for the use of biodegradable packaging materials such as paper bags and hygienic banana leaves, reiterating that some of these leaves have medicinal properties that added to the nutrients in the meals, as opposed to plastics, which leave harmful chemicals in the food and beverages.
Dr Afriyie commended the media for its unflinching support for the ministry’s campaign against plastic pollution through the years and urged them to continue giving priority to issues, events and efforts relating to fighting plastic waste.
He disclosed that since plastics entered the country in the late 1990s, Ghana generates close to 1 million metric tonnes of plastic waste annually but sadly, less than 10 per cent of it was being recycled.
He added that without drastic and deliberate actions by all stakeholders to curtail the phenomenon, the annual rise in the volume of plastic waste would pose a big problem for everyone.
According to him, the country’s soaring desire for plastic use and the consequences of poor plastic waste management has led to widespread littering along riverbanks and on the beaches harming aquatic life and recreational activities respectively.
The Minister asserted that as a legislator, he could advocate for banning the use of plastics in the nation, however, he was aware that thousands of citizens also make their living from the plastics industry, a primary reason the government was involving all relevant parties to avoid taking actions that might cause more harm than good in the drive to end plastic pollution.
Dr Afriyie noted that though countries like Rwanda in 2019, enacted a law banning the use of plastics, the yardstick for taking such actions may not be the same in Ghana.
Irene Wirekoaa Osei, ISD