“Wealth in Waste Initiative (WinWin)” is a local initiative with a global perspective aimed at stopping plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, and the environment. WinWin was founded in January 2017 as a platform to amplify a common message through strategic planning and communication. We seek to increase understanding of the plastic pollution problem and to find sustainable solutions. We aim to empower more people and organizations to take action to stop plastic pollution and to live plastic-free. We make a better world by educating ourselves as responsible global citizens, empowering ourselves as effective change agents, and connecting with one another other in creative collaborations for experiential learning, volunteer service, compassionate commerce, and altruistic arts.
There is no other material that has transcended all nations, all modern economies, and all social classes – regardless of their wealth or characteristics – in the same manner as plastic. The workable molecular polymer has indisputably become the global insignia of the modern era. Nearly everything, from house plants to paint to airplane components, has a cheap, pliable, plastic alternative – and they are everywhere, including Ghana.
Poor sanitation is one of the greatest challenges that Ghana faces. Vigorous efforts have been made to curb this problem and to achieve sustainable waste management. However, the high rate of population growth and rapid urbanization seem to cancel out the efforts being made by the Government and other stakeholders. Among the numerous problems that the waste management sector faces is the poor and careless handling of plastics after use. Economic growth and changing consumption and production patterns are resulting in rapid increase in generation of plastic waste in the world. The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials has increased from around 5 million tons in the 1950s to nearly 100 million tons; thus, 20 times more plastic is produced today than 50 years ago. (Source: UNEP - 2009)
The use of plastics in Ghana has been rising in the past decades resulting in a corresponding increase in plastic waste. The increased use of plastics in the country has not been backed with the necessary plastic waste management policies, which has contributed to the littering of plastics in most city centers, creating disgusting sights, nuisance, public health and disaster problems. In Ghana, plastic waste is estimated to be 22,000 tons per year and 270 tons per day from plastic packaging. Out of this amount, about only 2 per cent is recycled; the rest of the 98 percent ends up in landfills, streets, drains, farm lands and water bodies.
Plastics have various impacts on the environment starting from its manufacturing, usage, and finally its disposal- the most important of them all. The disposal of plastics has become a major concern because most plastics are non-biodegradable and can persist in the environment for many years. Also burning of the plastics can lead to the release of carbon into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
Various governments since the 1980s have attempted to concentrate efforts at either managing or outright ban of plastics. The worry of all these governments is the fact that our gutters get choked with plastic waste leading to flooding in most parts of the city after the rains. Some other concerns have been that our beaches have been inundated with sachet water waste destroying their aesthetic beauty thereby driving away tourists. Our livestock also feed on plastic waste and get choked and die. Choked gutters with plastic waste also become fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes infesting the general populace with malaria.
In Ghana’s capital city of Accra and many other Regional capitals, the waste management challenge can be observed as soon as one steps onto the street. The countless plastic bags and wrappers that seem to be a permanent sight in urban areas are the result of an arduous cocktail of money and time restraints, ruinous mentalities, poverty, and lack of infrastructure – creating a serious threat to the advancing of Ghana’s economy and its people’s health. People who are unaware of the implications of plastic waste pollution on the environment, their health, and their livelihoods litter their environments indiscriminately. Waste management companies are unable to cope with the growing percentage of waste generated by a growing urban population, much less recycle the plastic or provide conveniently placed bins all over the country. Plastic finds its way into drains and clogs sewage lines, fostering health implications like cholera outbreaks, as well as flood and fire risks.
The mission of Wealth in Waste Initiative (WinWin) is to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure. Our vision is a world free of plastic pollution!
1. WinWin Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
We intend to deliver education programs starting at Early Childhood. Children participate in learning experiences that include discussions, art/craft work, stories telling and music to introduce the problem and inspire solutions. Adopting the EYLF, students will become environmental conservationists, communicating their new found knowledge to families and the community. Furthermore, we intend working with primary and secondary schools to raise awareness of plastic pollution and encourage simple actions to prevent it. Our approach would be to provide students with a compelling reason to act before encouraging them to develop their own ideas to solve the problem locally.
Students would be encouraged to develop solutions that will:
- Prevent litter in their school and community.
- Reduce waste sent to landfill sites from school.
- Share information to educate and inspire others.
Some of the outcomes of this program would include student led campaigns to stop litter; rewards programs for students who clean up the school or community; increased recycling in school; composting of organic waste at school; reduced plastic packaging at school canteen; and installing water refill points. To deliver our education program we intend partnering with councils, businesses, government departments and schools.
2. WinWin Program Partnership
We intend partnering with select businesses, local councils, state government departments, individuals and other organisations to increase awareness of our message and reduce waste, litter and plastic pollution. The Program aims to be a mutually beneficial experience that highlights the Partners intent in protecting the environment whilst supporting our work. We will carefully screens Partners aligned with our organisation’s goals and integrity. Partners are required to agree to the terms and conditions of the program and complete a signed agreement. Partners may include Councils, Government Departments, Businesses, Organisations, International Partners, Individuals, Research groups, Schools etc)
3. WinWin Ambassador Program
The WinWin Ambassador Program works with key individuals around the world to spread our message and inspire the broader population to become active in reducing waste, litter and plastic pollution. The program aims to be a mutually beneficial experience that allows Ambassadors to highlight their interest in protecting the environment whilst representing a unique opportunity to be aligned with a growing global movement.
4. WinWin Guardian Program
The WinWin Guardian program works with Individuals who want to engage their local community in protecting our environment and waterways around Ghana. The Guardians are committed to act on behalf of WinWin to spread the message and engage in activities to increase participation. Each Guardian is set up with a WinWin Kit to help them get started and inspire their community to care for the environment and other water bodies to reduce sources of litter and plastic pollution in their local area.
5. WinWin Public Awareness Program
Both formal and informal education would be made to raise Ghanaians’ awareness of the negative impact of irresponsible waste disposal in general and plastic waste in particular. Education would also be used to forge a positive change in our attitude to plastic waste management. Information materials such as bill boards, posters, fliers, leaflets etc. would be distributed among the general public.
6. Establishment of a WinWin Waste Stock Exchange (WSE)
One of the emerging systems that is increasingly assuming a pivotal role in the achievement of recycling and resource recovery is an online waste stock exchange. This system will serve as an online Waste Exchange Network available for all companies in the country, to increase business profitability by promoting waste trading and recycling. This system will streamline cooperation between waste producers, re-users and business advisers making transactions quicker and easier to achieve. This web-based mechanism will serve as secondary raw materials market that solves logistical and qualitative problems for all public and private entities that could potentially use some kind of waste in their production cycles, or that implement recycling and recovery programs. It is an innovative and efficient instrument, if introduced in a solid legal and economic context, as is typical of a free and competitive market will promote the reuse and recycling of industry by-products and wastes. The WSE system could be implemented on a pilot basis in one of the Metropolitan areas of Ghana.
7. Conversion of Plastic Waste into Artifacts
Another option for sustainable plastic wastes management is conversion into artifacts. Plastic wastes can be used for other money-earning activities such as, sewing bags and raincoats, making art relics and other profitable products. This means the negative impact plastic waste has on society can be changed into wealth creation, which will provide employment opportunities and serve as a boost to the economy of Ghana. This option would be promoted in basic, secondary schools as well as special schools such as Schools for the Deaf etc.
8. Encourage Household Waste Segregation, Re-use and Recycling
The segregation, re-use and recycling of waste at the household levels or point of generation would be encouraged. Paper, plastics, organic matter, metals and glass could all be recycled or converted to usable materials.