Government and other stakeholders are developing an implementation plan called ‘Cash Your Trash' to promote domestic plastics recycling, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) has said.
He said as part of the initiative, the country would be zoned for plastic collection especially single-use plastics, adding that areas that constantly record a clean environment would be rewarded.
Dr Afriyie, who was speaking at an event to mark this year's World Ocean Day (WOD), said studies had shown that the current plastic collection system was driven by the volume a picker collects.
As a result, the single-used plastics were left behind due to their lightweight, he observed.
The WOD is a day set aside by the United Nations to educate the public about the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilise and unite the world's population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans.
This year's celebration, which is on the theme: “Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean.” brought together school children, fisherfolks, government officials and other stakeholders to discuss how to deal with plastic trash.
Dr Afriyie said the government would not rule out other measures including punishing people who discard plastics and other waste indiscriminately, which often ends up in water bodies.
He said available research indicated that by 2050, there would be more plastics in the ocean than fish if steps were not taken to stop the disposal of plastics into it.
“Millions of pounds of plastics wastes continue to make their way into the oceans every year.
Nearly, 1800 animals from 40 different species swallowed or become entangled in plastics as revealed by the Ocean Conservation Group Oceane,” he said.
“In Ghana, it is pathetic that we do not fully enjoy the benefits of our beautiful beaches. Instead, we desecrate them by defecating there openly and littering indiscriminately. Many visitors to our beaches are baffled at why we could do such a thing to ourselves when elsewhere, it is the place where vigorous wealth creation takes place,” he said.
According to the Minister, the coastal waters were deteriorating due to pollution and eutrophication.
Dr Christina Asare, Deputy Executive Director in charge of General Services at the Environmental Protection Agency, said the EPA was piloting a waste segregation project to deal with the plastic menace by encouraging recycling.
She urged District Assemblies to operationalise their waste management plans to address the issue of waste in their respective jurisdiction.
Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, the Chief of the Naval Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces said the existing maritime regulation had some gaps and that steps had been initiated to present a bill to Parliament to fill those gaps.
When passed into law, he said the country would have the power to comprehensively deal with issues of pirates.