Waste Management in Ghana

Waste management is an essential part of our modern society especially in urban areas where most of the waste is being produced from human economic activities . Accra faces its share of challenges in waste management given that 4.6 million households and businesses in Ghana do not have access to reliable solid waste management services. That’s a big number of people who dump on open fields or burn their waste. More than 40 % of urban waste is not collected by the waste management companies serving Accra. 

In Ghana, an estimated 72% of the urban population rely heavily on shared sanitation, which is particularly poor compared to other countries (Dorothy Peprah, 2015). Coverage rates for urban areas remain relatively low, with only 20% having access to improved sanitation and close to 20% practising open defecation.(GCIC Market Analytics Industry Report Brief)

This puts us in a very troubling situation, we try to understand why this is the state currently. Below are some of the factors that have led to this troubling statistics.

  • Increased population growth without proportional increments in the capacity of the existing waste collectors in Ghana, in terms of the trucks and facilities they have for waste management.
  • A lack of proper infrastructure such as roads, waste disposal and recovery facilities. Waste collectors in Accra shy away from serving areas with bad roads, the reason being that they want to reduce their operation cost by minimizing the risk of vehicle maintenance problems that could arise. Accra is served by only 2 dumping sites, waste collectors can spend up to 6 hrs in a day just to get an opportunity to dump their waste. This limits the number of trips they can make in a day for refuse collection.
  • Bureaucracy and corruption in waste tendering processes, this has led to companies being granted municipal contracts to serve an area but do not have the necessary equipment, personnel and expertise to deliver the service to the general public.
  • Operation inefficiencies in Waste management companies in Accra. Some companies face challenges in daily operation of their business, from regular truck breakdowns, unfaithful employees, delayed customer payments, lack of the proper equipment to carry out waste management.
  • Increase in social and economic activities in urban areas. There has been an increase in social interaction between people over the years, numerous events to mark milestones i.e birthdays , graduations,  parties and they have become more extravagant leading to more waste being generated at these events. Economic factors include the increasing number of eateries, entertainment spots and manufacturing processes to satisfy the needs of the population.

How can you get a Waste Collection Service in Accra?

There are generally three ways you can get your waste picked up while living in Accra. The first is through a municipal Waste Management company that serves the area you live, another way is through informal ‘Aboboyaa” waste collectors who usually move around the streets of Accra. The challenge with them is that for municipal assigned companies many have problems in providing a reliable regular service to its customers while ‘Aboboyaa” collectors are usually a hit or miss depending on the one you find and also locating them is a problem. 

There’s an alternative you can use – a waste collection service near you for both general waste and recyclables, Dispose Green , where you can easily request for a waste pickup from your phone by dialing *714*60# , follow the steps prompted to complete your request. We’ll then proceed to complete your request as promptly as possible offering quick and reliable services. You can also check your bills, make a complaint and refer a friend all through the same short code, *714*60#.

Some Proposed ideas on how we can improve Waste Management  in Ghana:

  • Establishing more dumping sites within Accra to ease congestion on the already existing ones.
  • Support and policy encouraging Integrated Solid Waste Management systems across the country. ISWM is  a complete waste reduction, collection, composting, recycling, and disposal system. An efficient ISWM system considers how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and manage waste to protect human health and the natural environment.
  • Proper vetting of companies given licenses to serve particular municipal assemblies to make sure they have adequate capability to satisfy the contract.
  • Public Education on proper waste management, reducing waste generation,  recycling and reuse of waste they produce.

There is a possibility for recovery to a cleaner, sustainable environmental ecosystem where human economic activities don’t lead to environmental degradation. Global access to improved sanitation rose from 54% in 2000 to 68% in 2015, although it still fell short of the 77% access rate set for the Millennium Development Goals (WHO, 2015) this is still a significant improvement and with implementing better waste management practices, it will only get better.