Plastic pollution in Ghana is a serious threat to the welfare of millions. About 91.5% of all plastic waste produced in Ghana isn’t recycled, instead washing up on shorelines or ending up in landfills. Several companies are trying to change this. New initiatives are being integrated into Ghana’s infrastructure in order to alleviate some of the challenges facing many of the country’s poorest residents. Here are some of the companies fighting plastic pollution in the West African nation.
Norfund, a Norwegian, government-owned investment fund, is an organization designed to aid developing nations with vital investments to lower poverty rates. The Norfund Act of 1997 highlights the purpose of “developing sustainable business and industry in developing countries by providing equity capital.”
In July 2023, Norfund created a $10.5 million plan to support the recycling capacity of Miniplast Ghana, one of the leading plastic manufacturers in Ghana since 1988. Miniplast, based in the capital of Accra, will receive the highest quality machinery to upgrade its recycling capacity from around 1,300 tonnes a month to 1,700.
Miniplast manufactures many unique industrial and household products from plastics. A newly developed in-house recycling operation sources local plastic waste to be used in these products, turning otherwise polluting material into items such as chairs and tables for local schools.
This is not the first investment Norfund has made with Miniplast, Empower New Energy was able to install solar energy plans in their factory due to the investment fund. An approximated 15,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be reduced from Ghana’s emissions over the next 30 years, providing environmental support to thousands of the most vulnerable.
According to Norfund, the plan aims to create more than 850 jobs not only for Miniplast but across the whole chain of plastic manufacturing and trade, helping to prevent further plastic pollution in Ghana whilst also giving employment to people who need it.
Coliba Ghana is a company set up in 2016 by Prince Agbata to help reduce plastic pollution. Through a partnership with One Young World, Coliba was able to successfully gain a partnership with a division of Coca-Cola in West Africa, securing investment for 200 plastic recycling centers in Ghana — 40 of which have already been built.
A key component of Coliba’s strategy to reduce plastic pollution is the Coliba 2.0 mobile app, a service designed to make recycling for business and public sector institutions far easier. The plastic waste generated from these sites is collected by “Coliba Rangers,” workers trained extensively in sustainability, not only providing people in Ghana with successful careers but also a great education on the risks of pollution to welfare.
Another of Coliba’s main goals is to begin operations on processing plants that can produce higher quality plastic from recycled materials, ensuring that the products used can continue to be recycled many times in the system.
Maame Abena, a Coliba Ranger, highlighted how his role at Coliba has enabled him to gain financial freedom. He stated “Coliba’s arrival has brought huge change in my work. Now the type of plastic that I could sell I can now sell for more money. This also has allowed me to get enough money to cater for my family.”
Blue Skies Holdings
Blue Skies Holdings is a U.K.-based fruit and dairy company that, in April 2023, set out a plan of five shortlisted solutions to help mitigate the effects of plastic pollution in Ghana.
The initiative is called FRESHPPACT, and the objective is to utilize several innovations to reduce plastic usage, such as biodegradable workwear, plant-based polymers to be used in packaging and coconut coir mulch in agriculture.
From the five finalists, the solutions best equipped to aid Ghana’s problem will receive up to £200,000 to implement their products into the market. All of these individual companies have tested their products in the rural communities of the nation, ensuring that their product is directly aiding the people who will need it the most.
Blue Skies’ commitments fall in line with the U.N. Global Goals, with its main focus on eradicating poverty. In its 2021 blueprint, the company stated that it will attempt to achieve zero poverty by protecting human rights, investing in the foundation of countries such as Ghana and ensuring health and safety. According to the blueprint, a report of the social value of its work in Ghana in 2021 alone generated $11.5 million of value — $2.4 million of which directly impacted their goal of zero poverty.
There are a multitude of businesses that are aiming to decrease the amount of plastic pollution in Ghana. The hidden risks of this form of pollution to the poverty-stricken are incredibly high, increasing risks of cholera outbreaks and poorer living conditions. However, with the aid of companies across the globe, and vital waste collectors in urban areas, there is hope that this issue can bring forward better environmental stability and a better, brighter economy.
– Oliver Rayner