Ghana is not ready to ban plastics now, however the Government will come up with a Draft Zero Plastic Policy by the middle of January, next year, to deal with plastic waste.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said there were many options to deal with plastic waste, which would create jobs.
He said it was not possible to outlaw it right now because a lot of people relied on plastics at the moment, adding that upon introduction of the Policy, government would allow various stakeholders to make inputs into it to ensure a holistic policy.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said this at a media briefing in Accra on Friday, ahead of the Christmas festivities.
He said there had been a lot of suggestions from many quarters that countries such as Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso had outlawed plastics so Ghana should do the same.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said: “In this Ministry we are very careful not to act with pretence so we sit down and think about issues very well before we take steps.
“We don’t want to rush into doing things. A lot of these countries have banned plastics, but there is active smuggling into those countries, therefore we need to take collective decision as a country that will benefit everybody”.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng stated that currently what the country needed was to avoid indiscriminate littering of the environment with plastic waste, which required change of attitudes by Ghanaians.
He said something could be done with courier bags by replacing them with cotton bags and recycling of plastics, saying; ‘‘ I know two groups are involved in recycling of plastics into fuel, for preparing bricks, and also turning plastics to replace bitumen, which can be more durable’’.
The Minister entreated Ghanaians to avoid excessive generation of waste and admonished those who would be using the beaches for various activities during the Yuletide to avoid disposing plastic waste into the ocean to safeguard marine life.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, who is also the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce against Illegal Mining, commended the media and the Media Coalition against Illegal Mining for the crucial roles they played this year in combating the menace of illegal small-scale mining, also known as ‘‘galamsey’’.
He said the fight against illegal mining this year had been very successful in view of the stringent measures outlined by the Government.
He mentioned the moratorium on all operations of small-scale mining and deployment of Operation Vanguard to enforce the ban in the Western, Eastern and Ashanti regions, as well as the arrest and ongoing prosecution of some illegal miners as some of the successes chalked so far.
The Minister said government would enter the next phase of the fight against illegal mining by regularising the activities of artisanal small-scale miners, examine the mining communities affected by mercury pollution and take further steps to remedy the environmental pollution and degradation of the vegetation.
He said government would undertake baseline studies on mining communities affected by illegal mining, which would inform government’s decisions.