IBDP ESS Townhall Meeting is in Session!

May 22, 2019

The Townhall Meeting is in session!

Ms. Barb in the ESS Class, also known by her alias in the classroom as "Chief Barb of Green Town" runs a Town Hall discussion to get students (committee members) to advocate and advise on various environmental activities and policies. Last week's session was on "Solid Waste Management Strategies".

The problem at hand was that the landfill in Tema which was meant to be filled in 20 years, was already filled in 7 years. The committee members would have to research and come together at the meeting to discuss viable waste management strategies.

One of the students came forward and talked about "Recycling" and "Composting" as one of the options. Around 60 percent of all landfills can either be recycled or composted, depending on the kind of waste that it is, whether it is biodegradable or not. The committee member had done prior research to bring to light certain companies that do bulk recycling. He also pointed out that the issue here in Ghana is that only 0.1 percent of the waste produced by the population here in Ghana. Now the question that needs to be asked is whether that is all that is getting done because we are unable to recycle them, or because of the lack of awareness. There are also drawbacks with regards to how cost-effective it is. What could be invested in now, however, is the development of educational programmes to spread the message of recycling, and single-stream recycling programmes are recommended.

Another committee member presented an alternative way to deal with solid domestic waste. Upon finding out there is an issue with the way that the waste is being processed, the solution must be quick. Over 4000 tones of waste is generated daily and instead of repurposing the waste, the waste is thrown in landfills. There is also the realization that most of the waste being thrown is an agricultutral waste as agriculture is the larger part of national income. What is most concerning is hospital waste as it could be hazardous. The committee member proposed Incineration as a probable solution, demonstrating the Incineration flow chart to the rest of the team.

The pros of incineration outweigh the cons as it is a solution to the scarcity of space, as waste takes up a lot of it in cramped up cities. It also supports the SDGs and the ash left from the process of incineration can be used for fuelling purposes in corporations, making it a source of energy. Upon further calculation, the committee member says that about 4000 tons of waste can result into 8000 kilo-watts of fuel energy; in Ghana's case, where the community is relatively small, it could possibly generate 5000 kilo-watts of energy. Amsterdam and Sweden are shining examples for their municipal waste management with incinerators. Sweden even goes so far as to buy waste from other countries to turn into energy.

The third and final group came up with the third waste management strategy being the development of a new landfill. As over 60 percent of the waste is organic, the landfill could be compartmentalized to naturally compost. These committee members also pointed out that one segment of the population is definitely more responsible than the other. The socio-economic status of an area determines the quality and the variety of the solid waste produced; higher economic classes generated more solid waste in metropolitan areas because of their higher purchasing power. Based on their research the group went on to discuss the specifications of the landfill to be constructed, from its size to its lining and its compaction of waste.

If this lesson is anything to go by, it is witness to the triumph of critical thinking inside a classroom, and how that influences our actions towards our own and surrounding communities. It is high time that the youth take more active roles to advocate for environmental protection and climate change. At ARIS, we are doing so, from our classroom discussions to our actions and projects. Are you?