The Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE) in partnership with the SESA Recycling Limited have embarked on a community plastic buyback event to commemorate this year’s Global Recycling Day. The event took place at the Osama Lorry Station located in Agona Swedru, Central Region on 19th March, 2022.

Community plastic buyback events is one of GRIPE’s initiatives, designed to reach low-income generating communities to raise understanding on waste management, and the social, and economic values of post-consumer plastics. The concept is based on the understanding that people could exchange plastics for cash or consumables by separating and selling their post-consumer plastics.

Prior to the day of the event, series of announcements were made in Swedru and its neighboring communities like Jukwa, Ekwamkrom, and as well as the Golden Star Fm station in Swedru to educate people in the various communities on the importance of waste segregation. The education included how people could segregate their plastic waste from other waste for money and other incentives. On the day of the event, individuals brought in used plastic from their various homes to the collection center. Volunteers also visited homes to do pickups from the homes of individuals who were unable to bring them to the collection center. The team recovered a total of 1407 kg of PET bottles, HDPE plastics and LDPE from communities in 6 hours. The plastics will be thoroughly washed, and crashed into flasks by the Sesa Recycling Limited for recycling into other useful everyday products, the statement said.

Ms. Louisa Kabobah, the Project Manager on GRIPE, speaking at the sideline of the event, said GRIPE’s mission is to implement sustainable recycling and second-life solutions that reduce the impacts of post-consumer plastic waste on the environment. She mentioned that the Global Recycling Day was a great opportunity to leverage on GRIPE’s good working relationships with local communities to further strengthen actions, and encourage people to be part of the solution to plastic waste, and not the pollution. Plastics itself is not the problem, it is our attitude to how we use it that makes it such a problem material. We need to rethink our throw-away attitude towards plastics. People need to reuse, reduce, and subsequently recycle, or better still, upcycle plastics. This will ensure that any used plastics cannot make its way into the ocean. This way, we can transition effectively into the plastic circular economy, and contribute to sustaining life below water, and on land. She urged the people to see plastics as treasure, rather than waste. In that way, it can serve as an additional source of income for people especially our women, and youth in Agona Swedru. Recycling a plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60-waqtt lightbulb, she added hence the need to recycle to conserve energy. Ms. Kabobah further urged community members not to relent in their efforts towards taking actions to keep their neighborhood clean, and safe from communicable diseases. Ms. Kabobah added that the plastic buyback project is a good initiative that has since its inception, contributed to retrieving several metric tonnes of plastic waste from the environment for recycling, which would have otherwise, clogged our gutters and contributed to flooding. She lauded the people of Agona Swedru for coming out in their numbers to actively participate in the event, and challenged them to keep collecting more post-consumer plastics to earn more rewards.

On his part, The Director of Operations for SESA Recycling Limited Mr. Christopher Gyan Mensah mentioned that education on waste segregation and its importance was very low and there was the need for organisations responsible for public education to conduct some forms of education for individuals especially students at the basic level to help inculcate this habit in them even as they grow. Mr. Gyan Mensah called on individuals and organizations to come onboard to help reduce plastic pollution in our communities and nation at large.

One of the waste pickers who joined the event, Madam Adwoa said: “I have been collecting plastics for the past 10 years. I used to be a petty trader but since I started picking plastics, I realized I was making more money from it compared to the petty trader. Hence, I am now a full plastic waste picker. The money I make from collecting, and selling plastics is enough to cater for the daily needs of my family, and to pay the school fees of my children. I am pleading with the government, and other private companies to continue to support waste pickers so that we can collect more plastics, and help make the streets of Agona Swedru, and Ghana cleaner.

The Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE) is an industry-led coalition formed under the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) with a stake in the plastics sector to integrate long-term sustainable waste management solutions, particularly around plastics. GRIPE was launched in 2017 by Fan Milk PLC, Guinness Ghana Limited, Unilever Ghana PLC, Nestle Ghana Limited, PZ Cussons, Dow Chemical Limited, Voltic (GH) Limited, and Coca Cola Equatorial Africa. The Accra Brewery Limited, Pernod Ricard, Mohinani Group, KGM Industries Limited, Finepack Industries Limited, and Universal Plastic Products & Recycling have since joined the coalition. GRIPE builds strong, long-lasting partnerships with NGOs, community groups, funding agencies, media, academia, private sector, and government agencies working on research, education, advocacy, waste collection or recycling, to keep plastics in the economy, but out of the environment.
SESA Recycling Limited is a waste recovery company based in the Accra that provides low-cost plastic waste recovery, collections and recycling infrastructure with an effective waste pickers network in managing plastic waste in Ghana.