The policy also aimed at promoting recycling of plastic waste into other products as well as embark on an intensive environmental education, among others.
Mrs Patricia Appiagyei, Deputy Minister of MESTI, revealed that “in order to tackle the issue of Plastic Waste Management in the country, a draft policy for plastic waste management has been developed and is currently before cabinet for attention”.
Mrs Appiagyei said this on Tuesday in a keynote address at a durbar in Tema to mark 2019 World Oceans Day on the theme: “Gender and the Oceans”.
She said government had observed with much concern developments in the country’s coastal and marine environment, and therefore was doing everything to address the issue adding that a legislation had been passed to allow people to return empty plastic bottles for a fee.
She observed that the legislation would serve as an incentive for people to create wealth by investing in plastic recycling businesses.
She called for a concerted effort from all stakeholders including the general public to contribute towards preventing pollution of the ocean with waste from households, industries and others, as a global assessment report suggested that there were 165 million tonnes of plastic in the sea.
The Deputy Minister added that about 24 million tonnes of plastic were discharged into the sea from various sources every year, especially from land-based sources stressing that it had been projected that “by 2050, our oceans will contain around 940 million tons of plastics”.
She therefore called on Ghanaians to make the protection of the oceans a priority “as we are in this business together, I believe strongly that every gender whether, male or female has a role to play, if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 14”.
Mr Kingsly Ato Codjoe, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, on his part, said plastic debris in the oceans led to the death of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year.
Mr Codjoe said the situation should engage everyone in the preservation of the country’s environmental heritage and should drive humankind to understand the paramount importance of maintaining a healthy ocean, which humans depended on for life, climate, well-being and the future.
He called for the inclusion of more women in decision taking on the preservation of the ocean as according to him, women engaged in all aspects of ocean interactions regretting that “in many parts of the world, women’s contribution, both towards ocean-based livelihood like fishing, and conservation efforts, are invisible and gender inequality persists from the marine industry to the field of ocean science”.
Mr Addo Frimpong, Chairman, Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, called for the full implementation of legislations on plastic waste.
He asked the various district assemblies along the national coastline to police the beaches and prosecute persons who defecate and litter it.
Mr Frimpong reminded Ghanaians that the problems of the oceans were man-made therefore the need for people to have a sense of responsibility towards their actions as he called on manufacturers to factor in plastic waste management in their production cost.
Mr Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, Deputy Executive Director/Technical, Envirimental Protection Agency, and Mrs Sandra Opoku, Director of Tema Port, through her representative, all reiterated the aim of celebrating the World Oceans Day and the effects of pollution on the environment and sea.
Nii Adjei Kraku II, Paramount Chief of Tema, chairing the durbar, advised the MESTI to form environment clubs in schools to encourage the youth to embark on good environmental practices and also. serve as educators in their localities.
During an open forum, participants called for the provision of dustbins, cleaners and taskforce at various beaches to ensure cleanliness.
Others shared their experience on how plastic in the ocean was destroying their outboard motors and therefore urged government to promote the use of paper bags and leaves in packaging as it pertained before the year 2000s.