On a cold harmattan morning, a bunch of teenagers, all students, gather round a weighing scale, closely reading measurements for their respective consignment
They take turns to lower their materials and read in excitement figures displayed on the scale.
Iddrisou Ayamba is a Junior High School student of Asokwa- Amakom M/A School and a member of the group who spent their vacation period, scavenging for plastic scraps, for sale.
“This morning we went to the refuse dump close by to pick the scrap plastics. With what I have gathered so far I will make between GH₵10 and GH₵15. The job is very good but I haven’t been able to make much this vacation because I have been lazy”, he said.
Haruna Braima decided to buy plastic scraps alongside metal since demand began picking up about a year ago.
With time, the plastics now fetch more money than the popular scrap metals.
“The plastics are taking over the business. We sold some to the agents on Monday and Wednesday. Today is Friday and with what we have gathered so far, we will be calling the agents tomorrow to pick the next consignment”, he explained.
A metric ton of plastic scraps sells for GH₵1,600, GH₵400 more than metal scraps.
Operators of waste recycling business estimate Ghana can create up to five million jobs to generate GH₵2 billion annually by recycling 82 percent of her plastic waste.
Only about six percent of plastics is currently recycled locally, with the opportunity for expansion.
In June 2019, Environment Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, announced a fund by Bank of Ghana to deal with the plastic menace.
It is unclear how much has been accrued from taxes paid by plastic product importers and manufacturers.
In Kumasi, however, plastic scrap is gradually becoming an opportunity for most unemployed youth, including students.
On the premises of the Environmental Synergy Initiative at Parkoso in the Asokore Mampong Municipality, plastic scraps cover every part of available space.
The materials are ready to be crashed into pellets for the recycling companies.
With crutches to keep a balance, Founder of the Initiative, Misbahu Abdul Wahab, takes stock of plastics from Braimah’s yard.
In less than three months the company has been able to crash almost 13,000 tonnes of plastic scraps.
Misbahu, who until late 2019 worked as a mobile money agent, explains how he conceived the idea.
“I studied Geography and Rural Development at KNUST, going through waste management courses, that is when I develop interest from building a business around sanitation.
“I had the idea but it took time and training to start the business itself. It was very expensive especially the grinding machine. Through family support, I had finances to start and gradually we keep growing”, he added.
No Business As Usual, an entrepreneurship training project, started through the European Union and SOS Children’s Village equipped him with the necessary entrepreneurship training and coaching needed to ensure the success of the start-up.
With 11 direct employees currently, the entity takes supply from 13 agents, with at least 10 collectors each.
Rose is one of two women who come into contact with the plastics immediately they are brought in.
She sorts them into colors and types, in preparation for grinding.
“I am one of the first people to be employed here. It has been good so far. I am not ashamed to work on plastic scrap because it sustains me and my son whose father is no more”, she opined.
The stock is then carried in batches transferred into the grinding machine, with huge opening at the top, operated by two young men.
Smaller particles are gathered and poured in a tub and washed thoroughly in soapy water to rid it of dirt and odour.
It is then bagged for the market.
Misbahu looks in the future to take up recycling of the plastics, perhaps, in a bigger space.
“Ghana hasn’t gotten there in terms of plastic management. I want to do more expand to recycle the plastics here. Go into making cheaper and durable pavement blocks from it and others”, he added.
It may be a tall order but determination abounds in the eyes of the man, despite his physical disability.