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09.07.2004 Regional News

Indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste affects food chain -- Dr Antwi

By GNA

Cape Coast, July 9, GNA - Dr Matthew Kwaku Antwi, Deputy Minister of Environment and Science, on Thursday noted that plastic waste has become a threat not only to humans but also to livestock and aquatic life, which mistake pieces of plastics for food and choking to death eventually.

Dr Antwi said this at the opening of the ninth biennial workshop of the Ghana Science Association (GSA), which is currently underway at the University of Cape Coast (UCC).

The three-day workshop was under the theme: "The plastic waste menace". It was organized by the GSA, in collaboration with the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) and Plastic Waste Task Force of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) and President's Special Initiatives (PSI). Dr Antwi admitted that plastic littering and waste disposal represented a significant and growing cost to the District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies, "and by extension, to the State, and ultimately, the rate and taxpayers."

He said the way forward should hinge on application of science and technology in recycling or high temperature incineration, biodegradable replacement of plastics and conversion of plastics to energy. The Deputy Minister asked the participants to look at plastic waste not only as a menace but also an opportunity for creativity, adding that, some companies already started the recycling of plastic films to produce useful domestic appliances.

"We need a multiplication of such investments in this area to be able to bring the situation under control", he stressed.

Mr Ishmael Ashitey, Minister of State at the (MOTI) and PSI, said the problem of plastic waste was huge and called for "all hands on deck" in order to successfully combat it.

He said the MOTI and PSI, in collaboration with the Food and Drugs Board and the GSB, had decided to register all sachet water producers to assist in putting in place measures aimed at arresting the plastic menace.

The Minister called on sachet water producers who had not yet registered to do so without any further delay.

Mr Isaac Edumadze, Central Regional Minister, in a speech read for him, commended the GSA and its collaborators for organizing the workshop, and said they deserved every encouragement to enable them achieve the desired results.

He said plastic waste destroys tourism attractions because of their adverse effect on the echo-system, and therefore urged the participants to brainstorm and come out with workable solutions to contain the menace.

Professor Fredrick Kwaku Addai, president of GSA, urged the government to encourage companies or shops to use biodegradable wrappers or containers, instead of non-biodegradable plastic. Prof. Kobina Yankson, Pro-Vice Chancellor of UCC, expressed the hope that the workshop would not fade into oblivion like others, and advised the participants to attach much importance to it.

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