Waste management is becoming a critical challenge in many developing countries. In Ghana, it is estimated that the country generates about 30,000 tonnes of solid daily, but only less than 2% is recycled. This calls for an urgent need to find sustainable ways of managing waste in the country.
Sustainable waste management is crucial not only because of the negative impact of waste disposal on the environment and on health, but due to the tremendous potential it has to unlock economic benefits and accelerate job creation. Statistics show that about 86% of waste generated in Ghana is readily recoverable, with a value of Ghc83 billion per annum.
However, the journey to sustainable waste management and maximizing the full benefits of waste cannot be achieved without a deliberate and strategic partnership among all stakeholders in the value chain. This partnership will require the active participation of government, private sector actors, civil society organizations, development partners and citizens at large, as the roles of these stakeholders in waste management cannot be overemphasized.
Governments have over the years demonstrated some level of commitment towards tackling the waste challenge in the country and need to be supported by other stakeholders. There have been deliberate policies, programs, and legislations aimed at addressing some of the loopholes in the country’s waste management sector. It is worth noting that, Ghana became the first country in Africa and second in the world to sign onto the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP). The country also launched its own National Plastic Action Partnership. These, therefore, indicate the important role government plays as a partner in waste management.
Private sector actors and development agencies also have a significant role to play in the waste management sector. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has demonstrated this through its ‘Waste’ Recovery Platform initiative. This is the most potent initiative that is emphasizing and deploying partnerships as a great tool for promoting best waste management practices. The ‘Waste’ Recovery initiative is providing an avenue for private sector businesses and other stakeholders in the waste value chain to collectively explore ways of turning waste into resource.
Already, the UNDP’s ’Waste’ Recovery Platform has identified and is supporting innovative private sector businesses that are turning waste into wealth through its ‘Waste’ Recovery Innovation Challenge. The challenge has identified businesses such as Coliba, Nelplast ECO Ghana Limited, Loo Works, Alchemy Alternate Energy, Neat ECO Feeds and West African Feeds who are utilizing various types of waste as materials for pavement blocks, fuel, poultry feed, and other useful products.
It is also important to get citizens’ corporation if any partnership for waste management is to be successful. For effective management of waste in the country, citizens must be playing their unique role of segregating waste and disposing it appropriately. Government and the private sector’s vision of exploring the economic benefits of waste through recycling cannot be realized if citizens fail in their role. Behavioral change to proper waste management is surely the way to go and this requires actions from all citizens.
It is therefore clear that the journey towards sustainable waste management in Ghana is not the sole responsibility of an individual or institution. The unique role that are being played by all stakeholders is a clear indication that partnership is indispensable in the waste management agenda.