The UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as part of UK Aid and under its Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) program has awarded about £1 million to Blue Skies Holdings Limited in Ghana to undertake groundbreaking solutions to sustainability challenges in the agricultural sector in the West African country.
It will be implemented by prepared fresh fruit juice manufacturer Blue Skies Company Limited and UK retailer Waitrose & Partners in collaboration with the University of Northampton Centre for Sustainable Business Practices through the industry Research and Development Hub.
The project dubbed Fresh Produce Impact Hub (FRESHPPACT) will be implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The project will be carried out in three phases focusing initially on the use of plastic in farming (agricultural mulch), packaging and workwear.
Solutions may include new technology and business models that mitigate plastic pollution through material substitution, accelerated biodegradation and improved manufacturing and remanufacturing processes.
Launching the Fresh Produce Impact project at Blue Skies in Nsawam in the Eastern part of Ghana, a Senior Lecturer at Northampton University, Department of Business and Law, Ebenezer Laryea, PhD said “Ghana Produces about 1.1 million tonnes of Plastic and we recycle only about 5% of that so with that kind of recycling effort it means that it is very very minimal.
“This means 95% of the plastic that is not recycled either ends up at landfills or our Oceans where it ends up in fish in form of micro-plastics we eat the fish so eventually, the plastic comes back to us and it is a major issue in terms of the health of the population”, he stated.
Touching on December 2021 UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported that there is “irrefutable” evidence of the need for better management of the millions of tonnes of plastics used in the food and farming system each year, he stressed that plastic pollution has a serious effect on soil fertility and food security at large.
“UN recent report has said that there is more Plastic in our soil than in the oceans and if that trend continues we are going to reach a point where there is a threat to our food security and a threat to our food security is a threat to our livelihood and lives as individuals. It is also a threat to the country as a whole. So this is a major problem. What we looking to achieve is to collaborate with researchers and industrial partners so that together we can find solutions to plastic waste and plastic pollution”, he emphasized.
He called on policymakers to intensify public education and awareness on proper waste management practices to cause behavioural change.
The Project Manager of the Ghana Recycling Initiatives by Private Enterprises, Louisa Kaboba explained that currently, some 14 companies are under the initiative ensuring that as many plastics will be eliminated from the environment.
She added that since 2017 the organization has been able to collect some 3000 tones of plastics that may have found their way into the oceans and other parts of the environment.
She, therefore, lauded the Fresh Produce Impact Hub project hoping it will have a positive impact on sustainability.