The Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) has launched a campaign to educate and raise awareness about the devastating effects of plastic pollution and open burning as part of its efforts to combat plastic menace in Ghana.
The campaign dubbed “Anti-Incineration and Plastic Pollution Campaign (AIPPC)” aimed at sensitizing communities to the negative impacts of all forms of incineration and plastic pollution on the environment and public health.
As part of its initiatives within the circular economy and climate change sectors, GAYO launched the campaign in collaboration with the GAYO Eco-Club Campus Chapters (GECCC) with funding support from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) . The GAYO Eco-Club Campus Chapters (GECCCs) are teams of students and volunteers set up on university campuses through which community actions and awareness creation activities are undertaken in line with the campaign objectives.
GAYO has set up GECCCs on the campuses of the Simon Diedong Dombo University for Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD UBIDS), Wa and the University for Development Studies (UDS), Nyankpala among others.
The community engagement activities by the GECCCs, aimed at creating awareness and direct impact in the communities, is a precursor to the main launch of the campaign on April 17, 2023 in Accra.
Among the activities being carried out within communities to achieve the objectives of the campaign include public awareness drives using various channels to raise awareness about the negative impacts of incineration and plastic pollution.
Through the GECCCs, a total of 60 students drawn from the UDS Nyankpala and UBIDS campuses visited the Cheyohi and Tinana communities in the Kumbungu and Wa West Districts in Northern Ghana respectively to educate the community members about the hazards of open burning within households, communities and farmlands.
During the respective visits on February 23 and March 03, 2023, the teams interacted with community leaders to advocate for alternative local waste management solutions that are environmentally friendly and sustainable whilst enlightening the public to take action against other incineration and plastic pollution activities.
The visits yielded pledges and commitments from individual community members to ending the plastic menace as the communities received and appreciated the message on plastic pollution and open incineration.
Community leaders also pledged commitments to further community engagements and actions against incineration and plastic pollution, and towards increasing support for alternative waste management solutions that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Comments from Community Leaders and Project Leads
“I am much grateful GAYO chose my community because plastic waste pollution has been a menace in this community. I assure you that my people will use the knowledge shared well. It will be of great pleasure to have such activities often here to educate, raise awareness and empower the youth in their inclusiveness in championing this campaign,” Cheyohi Wulana (Chief of Cheyohi Community).
Naa Sadik Gbele, chief of the Tanina community, expressed interest in the campaign and urged his elders and community members to take responsibility as agents of change in ensuring a plastic-free and open-incineration-free community. He gave his consent to allow the GAYO team to undertake a door-to-door sensitization on the subject of open incineration and plastic pollution to sensitize the people to the multiple uses of plastics and the dangers of plastic littering.
“I must say that the community reception was overwhelming. This exercise is essential in promoting and raising awareness among individuals and empowers them to take action towards environmental conservation. By educating communities on the harmful effects of incineration and plastic pollution, this campaign can foster a culture of sustainable waste management practices and promote collective action towards reducing waste and creating a cleaner, healthier environment,” Jane Akanzum (Northern Project Coordinator, GAYO).
“Gone are the days and now where we burn most of our waste and use non-reusable and recyclables materials in our daily lives but little did we know it was summing up to the obvious changes in the environment and climate. This exercise was a platform to stretch out knowledge on the adverse effects of our actions pertaining to open burning and plastic pollution. I must say there was a great impact on the lives of many and we were glad we could help. In all, eco-friendly practices should be our go-to resort anytime, anywhere to help save our planet and these forms of sensitisation are the easiest ways to get people to listen to us,” Susana Baidoo (President, GECCC - UDS Chapter).
“The Anti-Incineration & Plastic Pollution Campaign (AIPPC) is not just a call to action, but a message of hope for our planet's future. Every individual has the power to make a difference and create positive change. By reducing our reliance on incineration and plastic use, we can protect our environment and preserve it for generations to come. Together, we can create a more sustainable future and ensure that our planet remains a beautiful and thriving home for all living beings. Let us take action today to reduce plastic pollution and promote a cleaner, healthier planet. The time for action is now, and we must all do our part to make a difference,” Dorcas Duut Biisom (Vice President, GECCC – UBIDS Chapter).
Plastic pollution constitutes a planetary crisis with impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, the climate, and human health. Without new and effective control measures, plastic production is set to double in 20 years and plastic waste leaking into the ocean is projected to triple by 2040. It is an unacceptable burden to place on future generations concerning plastic production, disposal, and the rate at which companies, organizations, and individuals involve themselves in “waste-to-energy” and open burning.
Incineration is often considered a false solution to plastic pollution in waste management because while it may reduce the amount of plastic waste being burned, it does not address the root cause of the problem, which is the excessive production and disposal of single-use plastic products.
Effective waste management solutions to plastic pollution should focus on reducing the production of single-use plastics, promoting the use of reusable products, improving recycling and composting systems, and engaging communities in responsible waste management practices.
Overall, it is anticipated that the anti-incineration and plastic pollution campaign in Ghana will court indigenous support for climate action by raising awareness, advocating for alternative solutions, and mobilizing communities, this campaign hopes to make a positive impact on the environment and public health.