The search for a new economic resource has been starring at our face longer than we could have identified. Unlike the Ghanaian aggressive hunt for Gold through both illegal and legal means which intends destroys the environment, this resource radiates the beauty of the environment. The precious resource has over the years been rejected by the Ghanaian society. The sight of it alone is so disgusting that we resort to bury it at any isolated piece of land. Our daily activities generate this resource which is a huge mineral deposit yearning to be tapped, but rather our national discourse on this resource has connoted it to be a challenge which needs to be eradicated to a disposal site.
The waste management market
According to a new report published by Portland's Oregon-based allied market research, the global waste management market is expected to grow from $285 billion in 2016 to a whopping $435 billion by 2023. You can imagine the huge financial gains the waste management sector can bring to our national purse. As we are busily relegating the sector, other countries such as Germany, Austria, and South Korea are cashing in this sector by being the world top recycling countries with a rate of 63%, 62% and 60% recycling respectively.
This narrative at a snail-pace is catching up gradually with some sections of the Ghanaian populace. Most of them in their youthful age are most often seen scavenging for waste either in the plastic or metal form. At social events, you will see them hunting for plastic bottles and immediately picking them up the moment it was dropped by the user. Some will prefer to scavenge metal scraps or electronic waste which I am told is quite lucrative.
The fact is, waste in any form such as organic, plastics, paper, metal, faecal sludge, electronic waste or any form of waste has the propensity to be used as resource to boost Ghana's financial fortune. Explore any of these forms and you will unravel a hidden treasure.
Gas from human faeces is useful
A report from United Nation's Institute for Water, Environment and Health has revealed that gas harnessed from human faeces can generate electricity for up to 138 million households. The experts in this Institute also indicated that the world was ignoring the hidden potential of human waste, which could have a value of 6.4 billion Euros. This treasure has remained a strategy document on the shelves of our political leaders which I am sure has gathered enough dust without the establishment of needed facilities to harness the resource.
Until recently, human faeces were disposed of directly into the sea which was the main reason why Ghana was ranked the seven dirtiest country in the world. Some recalcitrant citizens also connect their household human waste to drains which has been the cause of frequent out-break of cholera and other diseases in most communities in the country. As we struggle to generate enough electricity to meet our power needs, human waste has been left untapped.
A recent Cable News Network (CNN) documentary titled “Accra turns human waste into green energy” brought to light an innovate initiative by Accra Sewerages Systems Ghana Limited, a private company turning human waste into green energy. This lauded private initiative should be supported by government to expand its operations and supply adequate power to meet the national electricity need.
Organic waste as compost
The Agricultural sector has proven to be the backbone of every economy. Countries have exploited this sector to feed their citizens and gain huge financial figures from the exports of food stuffs to the other countries. The food and farming industry is worth nearly a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2015, according to data collected from USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). Organic compost is a major contributor to increasing our farmland yields. This waste resource when tapped effectively can increase our farmland yields and expand our food basket to be a major exporter of food stuffs.
West Africa's ultra-modern composting plant is located in Accra. The Accra Compost and Recycling Plant (CARP) has been at the forefront of unleashing the resourcefulness of waste by producing Ghana's finest compost for the agricultural sector. How well have we utilized this compost to expand our food basket? This waste resource is an untapped commodity that can be a game changer for our farmers to increase their yields.
Plastic waste as a resource
Ghana has been a major consumer of plastic products as most of its consumables are packaged in plastic products. As a non-biodegradable product which demands investments into recycling for its cyclical use, this untapped resource continues to be tagged as a menace without proper management. It is approximated that about 8 million tons of waste plastic enters the Earth's ocean every year. No wonder our fisher folks are now catching plastics rather than fishes. This waste resource can be used to solve the waste management challenge in our country.
Ghana's waste management challenge has been diagnosed as the absent of waste bins in most households for storing waste. It is those uncollected waste from homes without waste receptacles that ends up at public places such as streets, drains etc marring the beauty of the country. These waste bins are produced with waste plastic products which are crashed into pellets and mixed with virgin materials of accepted grade to re-produce the waste bins. A major player in the recycling of plastic products in Ghana is known as the Universal Plastic Products and Recycling Company Ltd. This private company is turning used plastics into re-useable products and has the capacity to produce waste bins for various households in the country.
The conversation on this discovered precious resource as a treasure to change Ghana's economic fortune can be explored from a limitless angles. Unlike Gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese among other identified resources which demands the destruction of the earth service to mine it, waste when mined rather exudes the aesthetic beauty of the environment. The global waste management market is expected to hit to a whopping $435 billion by 2023. Ghana can fetch its fair share of this mouth-watering financial figure if we re-direct our financial investment to the waste management sector.
The writer is an environmental awareness advocate
Writer's email: [email protected]