Written and compiled by: Paul Harrison Mensah and Samuel Osei Frempong, GNA
Environment, it is said is the wealth of a nation. Its Socio-Economic benefit largely depends on its sustainability.
During the just ended World Environment Day, Business Journal in collaboration with GNA, Tema office recognizes the importance of the day in the country’s developmental processes undertook a junketing assignment and visited some industries, small and medium scale companies and mining sites to see at firsthand what they have done, doing and planned to do to mitigate the impact of their operations on the environment and the ecosystem.
The year’s World Environmental Day, a United Nations Certified programme, fell on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018, with a call on Ghanaians to cultivate the habit of not disposing off plastic waste indiscriminately and ensuring sustainable environment.
This year’s event was on the theme: “BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION”.
The global event was held in India while in Ghana a forum was organized by the Ghana Wildlife Society in partnership with the Australian High Commission to mark the day. The event brought together stakeholders to discuss issues affecting the environment.
It was disclosed at the function that an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans each year.
And in Ghana, about 1.7 million tonnes is generated annually, with more than half of this figure entering our water bodies.
In his address, Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources admonished Ghanaians to be conscious of the environment ensuring that the development of the country is in harmony with the environment.
He also called on plastic companies to come up with modalities on how to help address plastic waste in the country.
The event was also used to take stock and evaluate the activities of human beings on the environment and the consequences of irresponsible environmental attitudes. Again, it was used to create awareness about the environment and drew attention of policy makers, industries, corporate entities and citizens of the need to be conscious of the environment in all developmental schemes and programmes.
In Ghana, many corporate bodies have developed environmentally friendly ways in their production processes and methods under the control of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA’s) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) respectively.
All over the world, including developed nations, developing countries and under developed communities, people point accusing fingers at industries for environmental degradation and pollution.
The perception is that, industrial activities contribute about 80% of environmental pollution, hence they are responsible for numerous air-bone diseases and sicknesses we found ourselves in now.
Questions in search for answers have also affirmed that business and industry and production methods that contribute to global socio-economic development are ironically the very sources of negative impact on the environment which is the life support system for any living creature, especially mankind.
It is a sorry state to note that the world is witnessing serious environmental degradation as a result of over exploitation of its natural resources for unjust world economic sustainability.
Obvious consequences are that our climate is depleting, species are becoming extinct and more importantly, mankind is suffering from a lot of diseases and difficulties.
It goes without question based on 1992 United Nation’s Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that any development that will raise income but impose cost on public health as a result of environmental degradation and pollution cannot be categorized to be sustainable.
Statistics show that environmental problems are increasing daily and therefore, it is imperative that sustainable media coverage is needed on the subject both to expose and address such disheartening situations.
It is against this background that the Business Journal in collaboration with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) keenly followed the event and visited some industries in the industrial city of Tema and report the following:
AT PIONEER FOOD CANNERY
PFC anchors brands in rigorous environmental and work ethic regime
The Pioneer Food Cannery Limited (PFC), Ghana’s finest canned fish producers, says its rigorous environmental and work ethics have produced an elite workforce who have kept its brands soaring above others in the industry.
“We have been on the Dow Jones Sustainability World index since 2014. We adhere strictly to Ghanaian, European and American standards in all areas of production. In fact, we cannot afford to relax this regime because that will betray the trust of our clients,” Mrs Vida Botwe, Director, Human Resources, told the Ghana News Agency in Tema.
According to her, the company pursues an inclusive human resource policy in which disables are employed and nursing mothers given a 14 week paid maternity leave and two hours every day on resumption of duty until the child is one year one, among others.
“We treat workers humanly because out of that workplace serenity and satisfaction, they willingly put in their all for the company,” she said.
Mr Emmanuel Ankoma-Appiah, Manager, Environment, Health and Safety, said stress management was also key to the operations of the company.
According to him, “Heat, sound and other elements which induce stress are monitored and where necessary, counselling and reliefs are offered to re-energize the affected persons.”
He said in-house health facilities and personnel are on call 24/7 to give first aid, take care of illnesses and minor injuries.
Mr Ankoma-Appiah said the company had a tailor-made health and safety regime which could match those in the developed world.
“We conceive and build scenarios and back them with simulation exercises. Our firefighting equipment are at places known to all workers because we take them through fire drills regularly. We have Safety Ambassadors among the workers who encourage their colleagues to abide by the health and safety rules.
We do not compromise on Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) use because hygiene and safety are key. All workers undergo medical examination periodically and know when to go when the alarm sounds. For those who have hearing and speech difficulties, we use flash lights to indicate warning and we don’t mind if you want to stretch.”
Contrary to public perception, he said used water in the factory are treated before it is pumped into the environment.
“The fish entrails are veritable resources for fish meal producers and the scraps are carted by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified vendors to feed the steel industries around. We also have EPA certified venders who cart waste from the kitchen,” he said.
On the sustainable use of fish resources, he said the company received fish from internationally certified fishers whose activities are monitored by the European Union and other developed nations.
“It is our belief that fishing must be done sustainably to guarantee the survival of generations which would come after us,” he said.
Pioneer Food Cannery Limited is a member of the Thai Union Group, producers of John West, Parmentier, King Oscar, Starkist among others.
AT FERRO FABRIC LTD.
Economics Technology Investment
Ferro Fabric pumps 1.5 dollars into clean technology
Ferro Fabrik Limited, manufactures of iron rods and steel products, has invested one and half million United States Dollars in clean technology as part of its sustainable growth agenda.
“We have spent one point five million US dollars to make sure that our chimneys do not spew dangerous smoke into the atmosphere. We believe that when you settle on a good land, you don’t destroy it but make it better or at least keep it as you met it,”Mr K D Kunwardeep, Operations Manager, told the Ghana News Agency in Tema.
According to him, the technology which is being applied in Ghana for the first time, is called “Water cool over the hood quality control,” which was capable of extracting the dust and other mono carbons from the smoke emanating from the furnaces.
Mr Kunwardeep said ultimately, the steel miller would consume 1.2 megawatts of electricity in its bid to mill and operate the clean overlying technology.
“Our sustainable growth agenda means drawing all aspects of our operations including production, pollution control and health and safety along a path of perfection. Although perfection is utopian, we will endeavor to pursue it for the good of our workers, ourselves and for Ghana.”
According to him, “We are very concerned and conscious about health and safety because we work in a hazardous environment where we cannot take chances. We have to control the machinery and products in such a way that they become tools for production and not weapons of self-destruction.”
He said the multi-national steel miller would continue to research and invest in its operations and human resources in line with its corporate values which had made it a responsible investor and development partner of many countries.
Mr Kunwardeep called on investors in Ghana to take good care of the environment and the local Ghanaian staff as part of their contribution to the sustainable development of Ghana.
Ferro Fabric pumps 1.5 million dollars into clean technology
1. Ferro Fabrik Limited, manufactures of iron rods and steel products, has invested one and half million United States Dollars in clean technology as part of its sustainable growth agenda.
2. “We have spent one point five million US dollars (US$1.5 million) to make sure that our chimneys do not spew dangerous smoke into the atmosphere. We believe that when you settle on a good land, you don’t destroy it but make it better or at least keep it as you met it,”Mr K D Kunwardeep, Operations Manager, told our Agency in Tema.
3. According to him, the technology which is being applied in Ghana for the first time, is called “Water cool over the hood quality control,” which was capable of extracting the dust and other mono carbons from the smoke emanating from the furnaces.
4. Mr Kunwardeep said ultimately, the steel miller would consume 1.2 megawatts of electricity in its bid to mill and operate the clean overlying technology.
5. “Our sustainable growth agenda means drawing all aspects of our operations including production, pollution control and health and safety along a path of perfection. Although perfection is utopian, we will endeavour to pursue it for the good of our workers, ourselves and for Ghana.”
6. According to him, “We are very concerned and conscious about health and safety because we work in a hazardous environment where we cannot take chances. We have to control the machinery and products in such a way that they become tools for production and not weapons of self-destruction.”
7. For this reason the company has engaged the services of a chimney building technology expert from India to mount the facility to conform international standards.
8. The first of its kind in Ghana, this new technology would also serve as a catalyst for industry players.
9. “Very soon when other industry players come to realize what this new technology has contributed to efficiency of our work they would follow suit and build some for themselves,” he added.
10. He said the multi-national steel miller would continue to research and invest in its operations and human resources in line with its corporate values which had made it a responsible investor and development partner of many countries.
11. Mr Kunwardeep called on investors in Ghana to take good care of the environment and the local Ghanaian staff as part of their contribution to the sustainable development of Ghana.
AT CIMAF CEMENT
CIMAF dedicates 15 per cent of investment to environmental management
CIMAF Ghana Limited, producers of cimaf smart cement, has dedicated a huge 15 per cent of its 66 million dollar investment in Ghana to the management of the impact of its operations on the environment.
Mr Mohammed Bennis, Country General Manager, says environmental management is one of the core values of the Morrocan flagged multi-national cement manufacturer hence the 9.9 million dollar expenditure.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at the factory site in the Tema free Zones enclave, he said “at the heart of our operations are values we do not compromise including: respect for the environment, optimization of energy consumption and producing cement that meets the standards in force and the requirements of the market.”
According to him, the state of the art machinery installed to crush, grind and bag the cement was fitted with high efficiency and the latest generation bag filters as well as a gas analyzer for continuous control of dust and gas from chimneys.
“This huge plant does not emit dust into the environment. We have dust filters which sucks the escaping dust. We have covered all the stock farms and we recover and canalize all rainwater,” he disclosed.
Mr Bennis said the company had created a congenial workplace environment for workers who are constantly trained and mentored to love what they do.
“Ghana is the first English speaking country to host our investment and we will see how best to enhance her natural heritage and put in other actions in the social and environmental fields, “he said.
Mr Jacob Aggrey Odoom, Health, Safety, Environment and General Affairs Manager, said the company had a safety management system which spelt out clear and direct issues and instructions.
“We make every employee responsible and knowledgeable through training which involves videos, simulations, hazard identification and risk assessment and mitigation among others,”he said.
He said, “In fact, health and safety and environmental management are part of every employee’s job description. We are complaint with all applicable regulations.”
According to Mr Odoom, the company had a safety committee which met quarterly to discuss in detail all safety issues adding that however, all accidents were reported immediately they occurred as a safety splash is sent to all departments to activate investigation into the matter.
AT RIDDER STEEL LTD
FOOD AND BEVERAGE SECTOR
It was discovered during our rounds that while some of the food processing companies are operating under strict hygienic conditions, others are also doing brisk business but in a very poor environment.
There is therefore the need for the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to streamline their operations to check every corner of the country and bring out such companies to be compliance with environmental, health and safety laws.
AT BD ASSOCIATES LTD
When our team visited BD Associates Ghana Ltd, Producers of powdered cocoa for exports, Mr. Yaw Wireku Kyei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company hinted that about 15% of the company’s annual operation budget goes to environmental programmes and activities.
He explained that BD Associates Gh. Ltd which employs over 160 workers is very conscious about environmental issues and therefore has injected a lot of capital running over millions of cedis to protect the environment and safety of their workers.
He called on the authorities to implement waste segregation policy in our environmental laws to rid the country of from filt.
AT SAMBA FOODS LTD
Samba Foods Ltd, with its mission statement of committed to build a world class food experience, to nourish, enrich and delight the taste buds of Ghana and beyond adheres to strict environmental, health and safety practices.
Mrs. Leticia Osafo – Addo, Managing Director of the company says, “Not a single item of our raw material is waste thrown into the waste drain because of its usefulness.” As producers of variety of spices like Samba Shito and other soft drinks all the particles that come out from production line are re use for another essential purposes so we don’t pollute or disturb the environment with our waste,” she said.
AT SRG & AMANI COMP. LTD
Contributing to the programme, Mr. Souheil Issaovi, General Manager of SRG/AMANI Manufacturing Company Ltd, producers of all kinds of Polythene and plastic products stated that in fact his company can produce more plastic and achieve a lot of success but without safety measures and good environmental practices all such achievements would be in vain.
He said, recognizing the potential health hazards in the workplace environment, SRG has developed a comprehensive health and safety hazard prevention manual to ensure the safety of life, property and the environment so as to prevent accidents on the plant and achieve the objectives of the occupational health and safety policy.
Despite the massive influx of cheap plastic products onto the Ghanaian market which is seriously affecting their investments, Souheil Issaovi disclosed that the company is able to absorb over 600 people for employment and earmark between 3 and 4 percent of their annual budget for environmental health and safety programmes.
AT CHAMBER OF MINES
As we round off the activities of the World Environmental Week, we stopped at the Ghana Chamber of Mines head office in Accra and had a chat with them concerning the state of mining activities in Ghana at present.
There is public perception that the existing mining laws are so weak because they are centered on attracting investors and very little to care for the environment.
In case of surface mining operations, vegetation which are destroyed are not documented, thus posing great danger to posterity.
Seriously, there is less monitoring of the activities of the mining companies in the country they only think about how to maximize profit and forget about the harm been caused to the environment and the health of the people.
Would the mining companies accept this criticism and accusations?
In an exclusive interview with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Chamber of Mines, an organization setup as the mouthpiece of the minerals industry in Ghana, Mr. Sulemanu Koney debunked this assertion and explained that most of these wrongs have been due to over-exploitation of our natural resources by government in a bid to accelerate economic growth without adequate plans for replenishment, and this does not ensure sustainable development on the environment.
He said it is sad enough that most of our people in gold mining areas who suffer first hand from surface mining operations remain very poor and most often suffer various health defect, which are not consent with the United Nation Agenda 21 documents.
“This is why there is a ban on the activities of small scale miners in the country. The government is putting things together to shape the entire mining industry for the betterment of the environment, the people and the nation as well,” he assured.
Meanwhile Chamber of Mines Executives have cut sod for the construction of an office complex after existing for 87 years.