Home > Environment > The Menace of Sachet Water Plastic Bags in GhanaThe EPA Has a Solution

The Menace of Sachet Water Plastic Bags in GhanaThe EPA Has a Solution

UDS officials carting away seedlings

EPA Tamale Nursery

Tree seedlings in sachet water plastices

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to kill two birds with one stone. It is using sachet water plastic bags littered around the Tamale Metropolis which pose a menace to the environment to nurse tree seedlings for free distribution to schools, district assembles and individuals. The EPA thus hopes to clean up the environment and green the environment in one venture.

Briefing ‘The Advocate’ about the exercise, Mr. Abu Iddrissu, Northern Regional Acting Director of the EPA said the venture is also aimed at offering employment and income to unemployed women and the youth. The local innovation started with the watchman of the agency who was made to collect the sachet bags and taught how to perforate them to create vents for air to go in and water to come out so that microbial activities can go on. He also received technical training on how to put in soil and at what level soil should be put into the plastic bags before seedlings are put in.

When the work proved too much for the watchman, young school leavers were recruited and paid to collect sachet water plastics to bag the seedlings. Women were also hired to undertake the bagging of seedlings. So far, the metropolis has been ridded of over 10,000 plastic sachet bags which are now home to various tree seedlings.

Mango seeds littered around the Aboabo market were collected and nursed into seedlings which were then transplanted with technical advice from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) on how to water the seedlings and identify early pest infestations. The EPA also bought cassia and albezia seeds from the Forestry Department and the Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC) respectively which were also nursed into seedlings. Other seeds that were nursed into seedlings include neem, milk bush and cashew.

Recalling how the exercise was done, Mr. Iddrisu said “through technical training, we were made to know that the seeds should be parboiled before they are planted to hasten their germination. We carried out a floatation test to determine the good seeds which sink at the bottom of the water while the bad seeds float on top of the water. The good seeds were partially dried and planted. We were taught the angle of planting and the depth of planting. These are all techniques that our watchman and the other people recruited for the exercise learnt and implemented in the exercise.”

 Mr Iddirsu said the exercise forms part of the ‘Community and School Greening Programme’ of the EPA aimed at combating deforestation which is a serious problem in the Northern Region. “Given that most of the agency’s activities revolve around land restoration, land management, soil fertility restoration and degraded area management, providing seedlings to communities to encourage tree planting is one way of alleviating such problems”, he explained.

 Beneficiaries of the first batch of seedlings include the University for Development Studies (UDS) which was allocated 2000 seedlings for its greening project. Five districts out of the 20 districts in the region that have all been allocated seedlings have already taken a total of 2500 seedlings. Mr Iddrisu said the allocation of the seedlings to the district assemblies was in line with the EPA’s directive to the assemblies to establish assembly based woodlots to serve as an example to their communities which can be up scaled in future. However, a follow up on the proposal indicated that acquiring land for the establishment of assembly based woodlots as well as nurturing them into maturity was a problem to most of the assemblies. The seedlings were therefore distributed to schools to do avenue planting by the assemblies.

 The Tamale nursery is the only operational nursery in the ten regional EPA offices in the country and Mr. Iddrisu was optimistic that if the other offices of the EPA and other institutions concerned with environmental degradation undertook similar ventures, Ghana will come up strong in terms of afforestation and environmental sanitation.

 “Water sachet plastic waste has become a menace and the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions which are the most deforested parts of the country can make use of it. With time, the sachet water producers and the retailers can take up the challenge of supplying the empty sachets. If they know that there is value added to the waste, there can be proper disposal so that they are bought at a cheap rate for re-use”, Mr Iddrisu said.

 Sachet water plastic bags are not bio-degradable and there is no recycling plant to recycle them which makes their disposal a burden to the authorities concerned. Meanwhile, there are over 13 sachet water production companies in the Tamale Metropolis, which is a booming business due to the high demand for treated water.

 The Northern Region has been plagued with water borne diseases in the past, including guinea worm disease, which necessitated the establishment of the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme in the region as a result of inadequate supply of potable water. The Tamale Metropolis was not spared and suffered repeated bouts of water shortages, forcing inhabitants to look for alternative sources of potable water with no water running through their taps.

 Sachet water, as it is popularly called, became indispensable around this time and even with the improvement in the water supply system, demand for it has been on a steady increase. It is not uncommon for people in homes with pipe borne water to depend on sachet water for their drinking needs. Sachet water is affordable, costing only fifty Ghana Pesewas and the size of the sachets make them convenient to carry around in one’s bag so people leaving their homes can carry it to wherever they are going to ensure that they have access to clean drinking water. The rising popularity and usage of sachet water has however led to environmental pollution calling for more innovative ways to get rid of the plastic waste that it generates.

Categories: Environment
  1. savita
    August 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    good article

  2. yaron yankovich
    September 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    water sachets can be made by biodegradable material(oxo biodegradable).
    this tecnology can solv the problem.using the sachets for other purposes after drinking the water or recycle the plastic is allways better but it can not be for 100% of the sachets.there for using biodegradable plastic is good solution.
    if more information needed please contact me.
    i am running a factory producing the material

    • Sylvia
      April 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Really? I heard it is very expensive to produce the biodegradable materials. i am working on a project about sachet bags and how we can solve the menace, so if you have a factory producing this, that will be great. Where is your factory, and do you mind being interviewed? Hope to hear from you soon.

  3. effah amankwah
    September 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    reference for the answer of plastic bags production

  4. effah amankwah
    September 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    iwant the reference of the production of plastic bags

  5. Emeka
    July 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Great article. Fantastic thinking. @Yaron, where is your factory? Do you have any in Lagos, Nigeria? I’m into sachet water production and I care about the effect on the environment. I will be interested in obtaining oxo-degradable sachet water materials. Emeka

  6. S Snedeker
    February 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    What is the plastic used in making the water sachet bags? sms

  7. February 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I do not really know the specific kind of plastic used in manufacturing these water sachet bags but most probably, different kinds of plastics are used. This is because the sachet bags are manufactured by different individuals and companies and they come out differently, Some are thicker than others while some of them give the water an unpleasant taste, especially when they are stored in direct sunlight. This leads to the issue of standardization of the plastics used in manufacturing these water sachet bags to ensure that high quality plastics are used. However, one thing is common to most of them- they are mostly made from non-biodegradable plastic material which poses a problem to the environment.

  8. May 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    I’m happy I found this article and I’ll be book-marking and coming back frequently!

  1. January 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

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