The first semester of the 2018/19 academic year saw the launch of the University of Ghana Plastic Recycling Project (UGPRP) which aims to create awareness towards the negative effects of improper plastic waste disposal and to cultivate the habit of adequate waste source segregation among students on the university campus in Accra.

The background and objective of UGPRP

UGPRP is a students’ initiative with full support from the Vice Chancellor’s Green Project at the University of Ghana (UG), Accra. It is a joint initiative of the two student groups Technology Without Borders (specifically Recycle Up! Ghana) and CIYZOE Ghana, both being part of the Green Project Committee. Within its field of actions, the project aims at creating an attitudinal change towards plastic waste among the youth on campus by instilling a culture of source segregation and recycling. This would be done by creating awareness among students and staff using different platforms and methods and by providing waste bins for source segregation in the various halls of residence. UGPRP is expected to be a continuous and permanent project on the main and subsequently other campuses of the University of Ghana. The project will ultimately support the overall greening of the whole University of Ghana campus.

The challenge put into numbers

Data on plastic water sachet production on UG campus, Accra (based on own data acquisition)

The UG’s public enrollment data indicates that currently 37,940 students are present on campus; excluding formal and informal staff. A research conducted by Recycle Up! Ghana during the first semester of the 2016/17 academic year showed that on average each student drinks 3 sachets of water per day. From those findings, it can be concluded that in a single day, 113,820 plastic sachets are generated and either incinerated or dumped at landfill sites. This accounts for approximately 12,747,840 plastic sachets each and every academic semester, based on a relatively constant number of students. And these figures only reflect plastic sachets, excluding all other extensively generated plastic waste products like plastic bottles and styrofoam boxes.

The plastic recycling landscape of Ghana is characterized by difficulties and high cost of processing plastics because right from the source, other waste materials are mixed with plastics. This means recycling firms have to take the pain and cost of further segregating them. The UGPRP was introduced to ease this burden as well as help instill the attitude of source segregation in the Ghanaian youth by starting with the university of Ghana main campus.

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Activities of the project

There will be a chain of activities to meet the objectives of the project:

  1. Education and awareness creation is the backbone of this project and is mainly done through print media, room-to-room campaigns, lecture room addresses and student events like orientations and hall weeks.
  2. Sorting, collection and storing of recyclables is based on the strategic distribution of a total 1,500 bins (provided by the UGPRP) in all residential facilities on the university main campus, including 14 halls. The sets of bins enable a segregated collection of plastic bottles (PET) and plastic water sachets (LDPE). A storage unit has been constructed to locally house the waste until its final selling.
  3. Sale of the segregated plastic waste focuses on buyers who either recycle or upcycle the materials. This will in parts maintain and sustain the project as well as help rid our environment of the harmful degradation of plastics.

      

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Local activities from a global perspective

By educating university students on proper plastic waste treatment, we are educating the future leaders of the country. Their altered awareness and sensitivity towards this issue can result in a gradual attitudinal change towards plastic waste in the future leading to less waste generation initially and a well established waste management system for sustainable further processing of generated wastes. This would contribute to the global fight against climate change effects, as improper waste management is a not be neglected contributor.

Outlook into the future

With UGPRP being present in the main campus of UG Accra, the future holds the expansion of the project to all other UG campuses as well as additional universities in Ghana. That way, the future leaders will get to change their attitudes towards plastics and subsequently create the needed change the nation needs.

Call for volunteers

The project thrives on the efforts of volunteers for its implementation and is build upon a flexible system that allows student volunteers to get to work on the project only at times they are comfortable with. Therefore, don’t be worried it’ll take all of your time. All you need to do is avail yourself. To join UGPRP, kindly tap this link. For more information, please contact us via +233200801994 or [email protected] – #UGPRP #ItStartsWithYou!