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Creating Value from Plastic Waste


Although progress has been made in Ghana in recent years, it remains the case that only around a third of the country’s waste makes it to landfill. At the same time, some 85 per cent of workers are employed in the informal sector, which also plays an important role in collecting waste and selling reusable materials. The people who work as collectors and recyclers are rarely organised, making it hard for them to sell sizeable and reliable volumes of reusable materials at fair prices.

Something needs to be done about this, as the growing mountains of waste are endangering human health and the environment at a time when unemployment in the country is high. This has led Ghana to discover the potential of collaborating with the informal sector. If more collectors of reusable materials were to band together, they could work more professionally and earn more money.

The collectors have mainly focused on metals and e-waste up until now. Plastic waste, by contrast, which is polluting the environment across the whole country, has been seen as unattractive. This is where pilot projects run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have come in. These have been implemented in the Ghanaian capital Accra as well as in Kumasi, its second-largest city. A sustainable business concept for collecting and processing PET bottles has been trialled, with the informal collectors now gathering up around a tonne of PET a week and preparing it for recycling.


More informal collectors of reusable materials in Kumasi are banding together in groups so that they can sell larger volumes of better-quality plastics to the recycling industry over the long term. This is contributing to value creation and economic development and is improving income-generating opportunities in the informal sector, while also creating new jobs in some places.

The project is helping to develop an environmentally sustainable circular economy in Ghana that preserves natural resources and thus helps to achieve several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are: sustainable economic growth and decent work for all (SDG 8), as well as protecting ecosystems and biodiversity on land (SDG 15) and in the seas (SDG 14).


The project is building on positive experiences of cooperating with collectors of reusable materials in the informal sector and is bringing companies from Ghana’s plastics industry on board. It comprises various measures:

Strategic planning
GIZ is consulting with its principal partners in Ghana to determine which measures are especially urgent, and to devise a joint strategy.

International stakeholder forum
This event is being held as part of the West African Clean Energy and Environment (WACEE) trade fair and conference. It is intended for companies in the plastics and recycling industries as well as experts from local government entities. It offers all stakeholders the opportunity to find out about Ghana’s strategy for plastic while also discussing experience gained in Germany in terms of structuring the legal framework and applying it to the recycling industry.

Professionalising collection
The Cooperation with the Oforikrom – Dagomba Line Scrap Dealers Association (ODLSDA) is being made more professional to ensure that even more plastic in the environment is sent for recycling. The number of collection points is being increased and transport logistics are being improved. Other informal groups of collectors will also be incorporated into the model and given training and the materials they need for their work. One issue being looked at is whether it makes sense to organise these groups into cooperatives as a way of giving them a more formal structure. The measure is being implemented in Kumasi together with the non-governmental organisation Environment360, which is also involving the private sector and coordinating measures with Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly.

Extended producer responsibility
If the tide of plastic is to be stemmed, the companies in Ghana’s plastics and food industries also need to take responsibility. There are various models from elsewhere in the world for this. The Ghanaian Government is thus being supported in developing corresponding models for extending producers’ responsibility and getting the relevant actors involved in the process.

International contacts
Representatives of the Ghanaian plastics and recycling industries are taking part in the Plastics Recycling World Exhibition 2020 trade fair in Essen with their own stand and contribution to the conference programme. The fair offers the partners from Ghana the opportunity to familiarise themselves with innovative technical solutions in plastics recycling and make new business contacts. There is also the chance of more in-depth visits to companies in NRW following the exhibition.


Brief project description

Title: Economic Development in the Recycling Sector – Creating Value from Plastic Waste in Ghana
Term: May 2019 – December 2020
Sector: Economic development

Supported by: State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia

Partners and actors

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