Let's Segregate Our Waste to Give it Second Life
The University of Ghana Plastic Recycling Project (UGPRP) is a student-led initiative based at the Institute of Environmental and Sanitation Studies (IESS) and supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Green Project. The initiative which started at the inception of the 2018/2019 academic year is aimed at instilling the culture of source segregation of plastics among members of the University Community.
It involves the provision of facilities for source segregation at vantage points on the University Campus and at the various halls to complement the diverse forms of awareness and conscientisation undertaken as part of the project. There is also the collection, storage and sale of the recyclables to third parties for value addition in a bid to give the plastics a second life. A very important aspect of the UGPRP is the fact that, it involves scientific data collection of the various activities such as quantity of plastics collected on weekly basis, number of people reached through the educational activities and many more. Moving forward, the UGPRP is expected to expand its plastic waste segregation and collection activities beyond the University Community (2019/2020 academic year), and provide data and literature aimed at institutionalising an efficient waste management system for the University and other institutions.
Prior to the UGPRP, two student groups namely, Recycle Up! Ghana and Ciyzoe-Legon through volunteerism had initiated an awareness and plastic collection system on a pilot bases in Mensah Sarbah and Hilla Limann Halls respectively.
The main objectives of the project are;
- To promote waste segregation among the University Community through the promotion of behavioural change
- To engineer a University where waste becomes a resource
- To generate data to inform policy and strategy for plastic waste management
Activities of the UGPRP
The Project involves several activities that contribute to its successful implementation.
A. Education and Awareness Creation
- Room-to-room education: In this approach, volunteers visit the rooms of a selected hostels to interact with students personally and promulgate the need to make use of the facilities provided by the project to segregate their plastic waste.
- Lecture Room Education: This involves education and awareness creation activities targeted at students ahead of lectures, it provides a perfect opportunity to address a large group of students.
- Plastic Evangelism: This education and awareness creation approach is targeted at religious gatherings such as churches, mosques, among others.
- Regular University Programmes: This provides the opportunity to engage the audience of random programmes such as the freshers’ orientation, matriculation, graduation, club programmes and many others.
- Landbots and Social Media Platforms: Not taking advantage of technology would be a great disservice to this initiative. Lanbots with carefully scripted conversations is used to educate and raise awareness. UGPRP uses its social media platforms; Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to reach and engage with more people.
- Media engagements: There are periodic talks about the need to consume sustainably and manage plastic waste efficiently on the campus radio which also has coverage in a greater part of the Greater Accra Region. Moving forward, there are plans to reach more audience through more media outlets including television stations.
- Use of student and staff email database and hanging of educational banners across campus: Student emails are usually populated with messages on how best to handle plastic waste. There are also lots of banners with very attractive messages at vantage spots on the campus.
B. Collection of plastics
One thousand five hundred (1500) transparent special baskets have been strategically placed on the floors of all the halls of residence on the UG main campus. Half of these orange baskets are for collection of water sachets and the others are blue for the collection of plastic bottles. Two tricycles and 8 workers from the Environmental Sanitation Services Unit of the University have been designated for the collection of the plastics from the various halls of residence and transferring them to the project’s storage space.
On a daily basis, the collectors carry out sorting at source before transferring the plastics to storage. Data Collection and Scientific Evidence are major pillars of UGPRP, each day, the collections are weighed to generate the required data for project monitoring and feedback. Also, all project activities are documented on daily basis. This helps to identify challenges with the project and also help to assess project progress and impact. The final phase of the UGPRP involves bagging, storage at temporary spaces and sale of the collected recyclables to off-takers for recycling.
Giant Bottle for collection of PET bottles from the academic units
It is important to note that over 12 weeks of the first semester of the 2018/2019 academic year, the UGPRP has collected 14 tons of plastics for recycling. This consisted of 8 tons of plastic bottles (PET) and 6 tons of water sachets (HDPE). The first half of the second semester (seven weeks) has seen the collection of 5.6 tons (3 tons HDPE and 2.6 tons PET). The PET and HDPE were sold to off-takers who added value and gave them second lives in the forms of Trashy bags, Nelplast, Environment 360 and other private businesses. To date the project has attracted over 150 student volunteers, who are vigorously engaged in educating their colleagues on a daily basis.
- UGPRP is built on students’ volunteerism
- Data is collected and processed to identify the progression and regression of collection as against other project activities such as education and conscientisation.
- Research Fellows of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) provide technical support to the UGPRP
- The University is provides the needed controlled environment for a good plastic management learning
Project outputs and outcomes
- Expanded plastic waste collection to the academic and other areas of the University community by 2019/2020 academic year
- Created awareness on plastic segregation from source among the whole university community
- Supported at least two related researches of graduate students
- Generated the relevant data for enhancing project activities
- Organized one conference to share experiences of project with stakeholders
- Institutionalize an efficient and sustainable waste management system on the University of Ghana campus.
- About 90 % of PET and HDPE plastics generated on campus to be collected and managed properly
- A change in behavior among the University Community regarding source segregation of plastic waste
This project is hinged on the core principle of student volunteerism. It offers students the opportunity to bring forth innovative ideas to improve or complement the project. The administrative work of this project is housed at the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) and the collections of the recyclables are assigned to permanent University workers from the Environmental Services Unit. This makes the collection exercise very sustainable. Education and conscientization is carried out on daily basis by student volunteers using flexible and friendly schedules.
The University Management, especially the Vice-Chancellor’s Green Project Team, the management of the residential facilities and the student leaders of the respective halls of residence are on board the project. There are plans to integrate the janitors and the University security as well as ensure that students sign an undertaking to segregate their waste.
The project is financed under the auspices of the Vice-Chancellors Green Committee and its implementation team is housed under the Institute of Environmental and Sanitation Studies (IESS). It is an upscale on the initiatives of two NGOs, Recycle Up! Ghana and Ciyzoe-Legon, and also supported by the Ghana Recycling Initiative and Private Enterprises (GRIPE).
Project Implementation Team
Dr. B. D. Ofori
Head of Implementation Team
Dr. Dzidzo Yirenyah–Tawiah
Dr. Ted Annang
Julius – Jayson Botchway
Team Leader, UGPRP
Project Coordinator, UGPRP
Project Secretary, UGPRP