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Blue Skies unveils solutions to tackle plastic pollution in Ghana

There is a huge demand for the use of plastic for production and all kinds of human activity in Ghana.

That rapid rise in demand and usage has led to the country producing about 1.1 million tons of plastic waste per year.

Only about 10% of that what is produced is being collected for recycling. Over 2,000 waste pickers are currently working to clean up various areas, such as beaches and drains, to make a positive impact.

But collectors and recyclers have been overwhelmed by the volumes of wastes they have to recover.

Blue Skies Holdings Ltd, a private limited company headquartered in the United Kingdom is hoping to provide some way out of the mess in Ghana with a recently launched initiative called the FRESHPPACT.

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FRESHPPACT, intends to create a research and development enabled platform where players in the sector identify viable solutions to the plastic pollution menace.

Once such solutions are identified, extensive research that leads to accelerated adoption and commercialization takes place.

In 2022 there was a call for proposals with the criteria focusing on finding solutions that address pollution caused by the manufacture, use and disposal of plastics used in agricultural mulch, workwear, and food packaging.

“We had a good number of solutions that were offered, 25 in all from all different parts of the world, we shortlisted everything down to a very small number,” Dr. Ebenezer Laryea, from the University of Northampton told reporters in Accra.

Dr. Ebenezer Laryea speaking to the media in Accra.

An industry research and development hub created by Blue Skies shortlisted five solutions at the end of the process.

The five shortlisted solutions:

  • Replacing plastic agricultural mulch with a mulch made from coconut coir by the Greenshopper.
  • A custom-built machine designed to remove plastic mulch soil to that it can be recycled, by Data Solutions Hub.
  • Biodegradable workwear using a material called ‘Biodolomer’ by Multiwrap
  • A plant-based polymer (using seaweed) to replace plastics used in packaging by Kelpi
  • A paper-based pouch to replace plastics used in packaging by The University of Greenwich

The solutions selected were done in a thorough manner with the hope that they could potentially provide solutions the plastic pollution, officials from FRESHPPACT said.

Some representatives of companies that were shortlisted.

“We are very confident that the solutions that we have, we have taken a vigorous process to ensure that those are of course things that would work. So, because of that process we draw confidence from the fact that we have been thorough,” Dr. Ebenezer Laryea told reporters in Accra.

The winning solutions are to be selected by the end of March 2023 and trials will begin from April this year.

Plastic waste jeopardizes the international community’s capacity to achieve greenhouse gases emission objectives and tackle climate change.

Simon Derrick, Blue Skies Holdings head of sustainability said the shortlisted solutions would provide useful information about dealing with plastic pollution.

He said whether the solutions work as anticipated or otherwise still give room for an advancement in tackling the plastic waste menace.

Simon Derrick from Blue Skies Holdings speaking to reporters in Accra.

Derrick said should the solutions work; they would be a game changer in the industry in Ghana and around the world.

Organisations behind each solution have visited Ghana to conduct further research and develop detailed plans to show how their solutions will deliver maximum benefit for communities in Ghana.

The winning solutions will go on to receive up to £200,000 each towards testing and implementing their solutions in Ghana over the next three years.

The External Research and Project Management partners (ERPM) for the FRESHPPACT initiative are from the University of Northampton Centre for Sustainable Business Practices.

The Fresh Produce Impact Hub is being implemented by Blue Skies who have been awarded a UKAid grant to launch the hub. The UKAid grant has been made via the Sustainable Manufacturing and Pollution Programme (SMEP).

The SMEP programme is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Impact Hub Accra wins $10k MASHAV grant to tackle plastic waste


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