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Sustainable Management of Plastic Waste


Ghana’s economy is growing, and consumption along with it. On the flip side, the mountain of waste – especially plastic waste – is growing too. Local waste disposal services have failed to keep pace with this trend, meaning that only around a third of rubbish is disposed of properly. Due to its low weight and large volume, plastic waste is not particularly attractive to the waste pickers in the informal sector who collect reusable materials. Often, therefore, it is incinerated in the open air or disposed of in the environment, which leads to plastic waste getting into the sea, transported by wind or water. This practice harbours risks, both for ecosystems and for the health of the people in Ghana.

How can the challenges facing the waste management industry be turned into opportunities for income generation and environmental protection at the same time? This question formed the starting point for a project that brought scrap dealers from the informal sector together with local authorities and government institutions.


The aim of the project was to strengthen technical capacity for managing plastic waste in the competent Ghanaian institutions, local government entities, civil society organisations and the private sector and to use the example of collecting PET bottles to trial how reusable materials can be gathered and processed for recycling with the involvement of the informal sector. This made it possible to identify enabling frameworks for an environmentally sustainable circular economy that preserves natural resources.


The project took a three-step approach to pursuing its objectives:

Networking and participation
At the start of the project, in cooperation with Ghana’s Ministry of Environment invitations were sent out to a stakeholder forum in Accra on the sustainable management of plastic waste. The forum was intended for representatives of the ministry and the environmental authorities as well as representatives of local government entities, waste and recycling companies, non-governmental organisations and the research and teaching professions. The Ministry of Environment took this opportunity to present a draft national policy for handling plastics and plastic waste, which was discussed with the actors involved. The event was also enriched by the fact that experience gained in Germany with managing plastic waste was also fed into the debate.

International exchange of experiences
Some 20 representatives from public bodies, the private sector, civil society and the media from Ghana visited North Rhine-Westphalia for a week-long programme of specialist events focusing on practical questions about the circular economy. These included: how do you organise waste collection and recycling? What can you use recycled plastic for? What technologies can also be used in a country like Ghana?

Trying it out in practice
A pilot project was launched to test how types of plastic waste that are particularly widespread in the environment, such as PET bottles, could be collected and sold under a viable business model. The project was implemented in Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city with around three million inhabitants. The Oforikrom – Dagomba Line Scrap Dealers Association, a grouping of scrap merchants, served as project partner. Its members were trained in sorting and preparing reusable materials properly and given advice on strengthening their internal organisational structure and professionalising their public image. The project also helped to create collection points for plastic in Kumasi. Empty runs being done by a company in the plastics manufacturing industry were used to transport the reusable materials to the buyer of the PET, based on the coast the other side of Tema.

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Brief project description

Title: Sustainable Management of Plastic Waste in Ghana
Term: December 2017 – February 2019
Sector: Environment

Supported by: State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia

Partners and actors

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