Reducing plastic waste menace in Ghana

March 9, 2022

How a woman-led company, City Waste Recycling, is contributing to the fight against plastic waste in Ghana.


Vivian Ahiayibor, Managing Director of City Waste, displaying plastic pellets produced by her company for re-use. Photos: Ernestina Ocansey/ UNDP Ghana.

“I am always saddened by the rate at which our environment is being polluted with plastic waste and harmful chemicals, especially knowing that we could take actions to curb the situation”, Vivian Ahiayibor, Managing Director of City Waste Recycling disclosed.

With the desire to help curb the alarming rate of environmental challenges, Vivian joined City Waste to contribute actively towards sustainable waste management in Ghana. Under her leadership, City Waste Recycling now recycles plastic waste, contributing to reduce the plastic waste menace in the country. With the zeal to grow, City Waste applied for the second edition of the Waste Recovery Innovation Challenge, which was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF), under the Ghana Waste Recovery Platform. Thankfully, City Waste was one of the winners of the challenge and the seed money, according to Vivian, was used to transform the business.

The support from UNDP and the Coca Cola Foundation was very timely. We received the funds at a time that we needed to scale up the business. So, the fund was used to purchase very critical equipment such as an agglomerator, granulator, crushing machine and mold”, Vivian disclosed.

A worker operating on the crushing machine.

Another crushing machine purchased.

A Delightful Journey

City Waste Recycling has been in operation since 2018. In the early days of the company, it was mainly producing briquettes from sawdust, with the aim of helping to reduce the release of harmful chemicals that go into the atmosphere when people burn sawdust.  

After some years of producing briquettes from sawdust, the company saw a business opportunity in the growing plastic waste pollution and decided to find innovative solutions to turn plastic and other waste into useful products.

“When I realized a lot can be done with plastic waste, I decided to venture into that sector. The journey so far has been amazing and with thanks to UNDP and other partners, the business has been running smoothly,” Vivian narrated.

Today, City Waste Recycling produces plastic pellets and sell to other companies for reuse. The company is also into electronic waste recycling and scrap fridge degassing (removal of oil and gas from the cooling system of a scrap refrigerator without spilling anything into the environment) for re-use.

This journey has been a fulfilling one for me and the company. Now, we are not only helping to keep our environment and planet safe, but we are also improving the livelihoods of a lot of people”, noted Vivian.

Plastic pellets produced by City Waste

Partnership Opportunity

In 2021, UNDP in partnership with the Coca Cola Foundation and the Ghana National Plastic Action Partnership (GNAP) organized the Ghana Waste Fair. The Fair brought together actors in the waste management value chain, like City Waste, to network and share ideas to promote sustainable waste management and circular economy in Ghana.

“The Ghana Waste Fair was a door opener and a game changer for our business. The fair connected us to two big investors. I signed two big deals on both the electronic waste and plastic waste initiatives thanks to the fair”, Vivian noted.

Vivian showing products made from electronic waste at the 2021 Ghana Waste Fair.

Today, Vivian’s determination and leadership has made City Waste a thriving business, reducing plastic pollution, contributing to climate action and livelihoods improvement for many. Thanks to the support from UNDP and other partners, the company now recycles 500 metric tons per day, an increase from 200 metric tons of plastic per day that it used to recycle before getting the 40,000 US dollar grant from the Waste Recovery Challenge. City Waste also now employs about 600 people of which 538 of them are temporary staff and 62 of them are permanent staff.

Workers sorting out plastic for production.

Ghana produces about 1.1 million tons of plastic waste produce per year and the remarkable leadership provided by Vivian is yet another testament of how women can be supported to lead the charge in the race against time to protect the environment and planet.