A team from the Abidjan Convention went to meet a hotel complex owner on the beaches of Accra, in order to learn more about the impacts of marine litter and the measures put in place to reduce it.
“The turtle laying season has given way to the mass of plastic waste we collect daily…“
On February 23, 2017, the United Nations Environment Program launched a global campaign #Cleanseas – Turn the tide on plastic, urging governments, the private sector, as well as consumers to urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic. In Ghana, the main areas of concentration of plastic waste are located in urban agglomerations and large cities located along the coast, attractive for trade and industries. Waste generation per day in most of these urban centers (Accra-Tema, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale) is approximately 2,800 to 3,200 metric tons. Each municipality grants a franchise to waste management companies, which collect, process and dispose of the waste. Uncollected plastics end up in gutters, streams and eventually on beaches. It was on one of these beaches, in Accra, that a team from the Abidjan Convention went to meet Dr. Albert Tetteh Botchway, General Manager of the Laboma Beach Resort, and Mr. Martey Korleys, responsible for the operations of this establishment, with the aim of learning more about their method of managing the waste that spills on the beaches.
- We have all been shocked by recent global awareness campaigns, showing the large quantities of litter ending up on beaches. How long have you owned this establishment? Does it know the same craze as when it was created?
We have owned this establishment, which has been providing catering and concert services, for almost 13 years. You know, most of Accra’s beaches are very crowded. Here, we are on a private beach and welcome a diverse clientele, we offer some more quiet. We receive an average of 50 people a day during the week and up to 500 people during the weekend.
- With such an influx, how do you organize the cleaning of your space on a daily basis?
The majority of the waste we encounter on a daily basis comes from the sea and from the Kpeshi lagoon. In recent years, the number of dwellings along the river has only increased, bringing with it the increase of uncontrolled installations of evacuation pipes. The waste from these new households is directly discharged into the lagoon and ends up in the sea. Our beach being located near the mouth of the river, every morning we notice the spill of new waste coming from the lagoon and the sea. We have therefore set up a daily cleaning program. 15 to 30 people, depending on the day, are in charge of the cleanliness of the beach and of the cleaning of the banks. These people work 3 hours a day from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and are paid by the restaurant.
- Could you give us an estimate of the amount of waste collected per day? Finally, what happens to the waste once it has been collected?
First of all, it is important to stress that we don’t have a sophisticated sorting or recycling facility. We mainly collect plastic items: bottles, sachets and other household and industrial items. We also frequently find ghost gear such as fishing nets. Among the waste found, plastic objects are being sorted. Plastic bottles for instance, are given to companies responsible for recycling without financial compensation. Although we fill 25 dumpsters a day, it is difficult to precisely quantify the waste that we collect on a daily basis. This figure can double during the rainy season. It is nevertheless important to underline that we have seen the number of garbage collected decrease since we implemented this initiative.
- Are you receiving funds or any support as part of your initiative?
We are aware of the need to have a clean beach. If the beach is not clean, no one will want to spend time there (laughs). It is therefore necessary to do this cleaning, with or without partners. In the past, this beach was a major area for the spawning of sea turtles. Over time, the turtle spawning season has given way to the pile of plastic waste that we collect daily. We are sure that no turtle would want to lay its eggs in such a polluted space. We believe and hope that our initiative can hence contribute to the protection of biodiversity and may also make more tourists want to visit our beach. While we would obviously be delighted to receive support from partners in the management of our waste, we are proud and find it gratifying to have so far conducted these operations on our own.
 Information provided by Mr. Godson Cudjoe Voado – Program Manager, Environmental Protection Agency, Accra, Ghana.
Note: The interview was conducted in Laboma Beach – Ghana – and then continued over the phone.
Pictures : Alison Amoussou (Abidjan Convention secretariat)