President of the Ghana Plastic Manufacturers Association (GPMA) has revealed that 62% of plastic bags in our environments are products imported from China into Ghana.
Consequently, GPMA has called on the central government to ban the importation of flexible plastic bags from China into the country.
According to GPMA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been on the nerves of their members to ensure that they conform to the production of Oxo-bio additive flexible plastic packaging but alleged that products from China do not conform to the directive.
It would be recalled that on 1st November, 2015 the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation came up with directives which made it mandatory for plastic producers to use Oxo-bio additive in their manufacturing process to check plastic pollution.
The Oxo-biodegradable plastic is often referred to as “degradable” plastic since it does not require a biological process to degrade, but the GPMA president alleged that imported plastic bags from China do not meet the EPA’s directives.
Addressing the media on the current state of efforts by GPMA to eradicate the plastic menace, the President for GPMA, Mr Ebo Botwe, said by using Oxo-bio additive, members of the association incur an additional operational cost of about 2.7%, which they absorb.
“However, about 62% of plastic carry bags, takeaway bags, cut bags, films and sheets on the markets are imported mostly from China which are neither Oxo-Biodegradable nor Degradable and these form the huge plastic waste we find in our environment but unfortunately EPA has failed to enforce,” he said.
The challenge has always been that the plastic waste which is not collected for recycling should not be allowed to remain in the environment, given that, conventional plastic will remain for thousands of years unless it is made to bio-degrade. The clever aspect of this Oxo technology is that, if the plastic wastes do escape collection and ends up in the open environment, it will degrade and biodegrade,” he said.
The group, therefore, called on the EPA to enforce the laws and regulations on Oxo-Bio Additive on imported finished plastic products into the country.
Mr Botwe explained that the installed capacity for plastic packaging products is at 56 per cent utilisation whilst imports are over 62 per cent coupled with the fact that, most of the multi-national companies are also importing their plastic packaging – attributing their reason to their importation, to the high cost of the locally manufactured plastic products.
“Fact is that, the quantities of Chinese imports are increasing by the day because more Chinese nationals are setting up warehouses and importing finished plastic packaging products for retail. This activity by the Chinese is also against the law on retailing by foreigners. Indeed, it has gotten to a stage where some local traders have set up small scale production factories in China to produce plastic take away bags, rolls, cut bags, sheets and the rest and ship them to Ghana for sale.”
That, he claimed, was/ hurting the local industries.
The president of GPMA who doubles as the chairman of the Plastic Waste Management Programme, Ghana, stated that the country risked adding to the ever increasing unemployment rate if the calls by a section of the public to ban plastic products was carried out.
Mr Botwe revealed that currently there were about 160 plastic manufacturers in the country giving direct employment to over 28,000 people and indirect employment of over 4,200 and also generating over 3.7 million jobs in the plastic waste recycling sector.
The president of GPMA pointed out that the Chinese government gives export benefits of between 30% – 40% to boost their manufacturing sector. This is one of the key reasons plastic bags which are manufactured in China is far cheaper than those manufactured locally in Ghana.
He continued that about 87 per cent of industries in Ghana depend on plastic manufacturers for all their plastic packaging needs, adding that equally industries in Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger depended heavily on Ghana Plastic Manufacturers for their plastic packaging needs.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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