Dealing with single-use plastics: Examining the economic effect of a ban in Ghana

Project Active from to State

Many cities in sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly experiencing widespread usage of single-use plastic products and the associated littering. This is having a devastating impact on economies, ecosystems, infrastructure and human lives. Single-use plastics are used only once before they are disposed of or recycled. These items include plastic bags, sachets, straws and stirrers, cups, cutlery, drink and water bottles, and most food packaging items. Petroleum-based disposable plastics are not biodegradable and are difficult and expensive to recycle. Such single-use plastics usually end up at the landfill where they are buried or find their way back into the environment, including the ocean.

In Ghana, single-use plastics contribute to flooding as a result of choked gutters. This poses a major challenge for waste management in cities. The government of Ghana is thus contemplating a ban on disposable plastics due to the negative impacts on waste management efforts as well as the negative environmental and health impacts.

This research project investigates the environmental and economic impacts of a ban on single-use plastics in Ghana. The main aims are:

  • Document the current level of production, usage practices, prospects and challenges of single-use plastics.
  • Analyse the environmental and economic impact of banning single-use plastics on the industry and economy of Ghana.
  • Co-produce a new model of fractional levy and polluter tax system on single-use plastics with producers, retailers, consumers, waste managers, and policymakers.

The results will answer the policy question of how policymakers and stakeholders can find a middle ground to leverage on both the environmental and economic implications of a ban on single-use plastics.

This project will provide the evidence needed to enable policymakers and stakeholders to design and implement interventions that will reduce, reuse, and recycle plastics, and generate funds to manage existing plastic waste in Ghana’s urban areas. Ultimately, this research will protect ecosystems, conserve natural resources, save landfill space and energy, improve infrastructure performance, generate socio-economic development and reduce poverty. This will contribute to the realisation of several of the Social Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda which promote pluralistic, inclusive, and resilient societies, which can foster innovation, local economic development, and combat poverty.