Recycle Up! Ghana

creating local solutions to the waste problems in Ghana

The Country

Ghana. A wandering gaze. The heavy tropical sun is burning on your skin. Trotros and taxis on the road are hooting for passengers, leaving a slight smell of petrol in the air. The streets are crowded with people. Women are balancing silver trays on their heads carrying pyramids of pure water, while having their babies safely tied onto their back. Children are giggling and romping around in every corner you are looking to. People are moving to the vibrant rhythms of Djembe drums and West African beats, flanked by the gentle sound of women pounding the traditional Fufu dish in big wooden troughs. Buzzy marketplaces provide colorful Kente fabrics and fruits. And among all this beauty, there is one thing always disturbing your view. Like a black spot on your retina you cannot get rid off. On the streets, at the markets and in the gutters. It is here. It is there. It is everywhere. Plastic waste.

The Challenge

Ghana is one of the 10 most polluted countries in the world [1],[2]. Massive amounts of improperly treated plastic waste are extensively contaminating landscapes, especially in densely populated urban areas. Streets, open spaces, rivers and beaches are polluted by plastic bags and bottles, drinking water sachets and colorful packaging materials. This poses a threat to the local population in various ways: Open drains get clogged, entailing considerable flood risks and outburst of diseases. Open burning of plastic waste releases hazardous toxins. Unsecured landfill sites cause air pollution and potential groundwater contamination. Entering the ocean, plastic waste poses a major threat to the marine environment.

This severe problem exists because the vast majority in Ghana is lacking awareness about the dramatic negative effects of plastic pollution. Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure prevents people to engage in proper waste management. Last but not least, the government so far failed to create a strong entrepreneurial environment in the waste sector which would lead to employment opportunities and promote positive societal changes.

Our Approach

We as Recycle Up! Ghana believe that local problems need to be solved by local people. We focus on young people, high school pupils and university students as well as young entrepreneurs. We believe that these change-makers will create a more sustainable future for Ghana and beyond. Therefore our major purpose is to train and empower the Ghanaian youth and provide a platform for them to tackle the plastic waste challenge in their country. See an overview of our current activities here.