Plastic and Anaerobic power plants are the new solutions solving Sierra Leone’s Infrastructural, plastic and solid waste problem?
(Photo credit by Springfield, Mutethya, Goldstein, Government of Ethiopia.)
Over the last seven-decade since the intervention of plastic, it has tremendously helped people in carrying out their daily routines such as packaging and storage of items. As much plastic has helped us, it’s also the leading factor of devastating events on the environment and the ecosystem from which my country Sierra Leone has not been exempted from the problem (Torr, 2018), both plastic and solid waste has contributed to the acceleration of climate change events in Sierra Leone over the years.
Plastic and solid waste pollution have posed a great threat to Sierra Leone’s environment and communities, it’s the cause of flooding and outbreak of diseases and contamination of local waterways, poisoning of the soil, and the increase of greenhouse gas emissions due to them left and burned on landfill (Rempel, 2020). Freetown and other cities across the country have been affected by both plastic and municipal waste pollution, especially Freetown, the capital, which has grown so much in the last 15 years with the rapid growth of urbanization (United Nations Environment Programme, 2018). The demand is high for the city waste management to solve all Freetown waste problems is enormous, they lack the necessary equipment to carry out their duties, one is that they don’t have enough garbage trucks to collect all the trash around Freetown, Another is they do not have enough personnel, and still lacks sufficient funds from the government to able to carry out their assignment, and less emphasize on recycling entity to recycle discarded materials (Relief Web, 2018).
Another problem is inadequate power supply across the country, according to research and studies show only 13% percent of Sierra Leoneans only have access to electricity which is shared amongst the different provincial towns and Urban towns, Freetown stands at 9%, and other districts headquarters Bo, Makeni, and Kenema shared 4% of electricity (Set for all, 2021). Urban areas in the country do have access to 24 hours electricity, while rural areas in Sierra Leone only have 1% access to electricity. 85% of Sierra Leoneans do not have access to 24 hours electricity, especially those in the villages they use battery-powered torched and solar lights to light their homes at night, although solar street lights have been installed in the various districts across the country, most people in the province do not have access to electricity, rich and business people in the province are the only ones that have access to electricity as they can afford it. A huge chunk of the country’s power supply is imported as it is delivered by an electricity ship (Ajala, 2020). Sierra Leone has a huge gap when it comes to the issue of electricity as it still maintains and utilizes traditional grid-centric approach machinery to generate electricity. Electricity should be a thing that everybody should have access to in this modern 21st century (Thoranka, 2020).
Another problem is in as much as Sierra Leone, over the previous years, have laid emphasis on constructing and improving its current and new road infrastructure across the country to ease transportation of trade good and services that its agricultural sector heavily relies upon and the movement of people in term of achieving economic growth and development. Most of the road network in the country has not been paved out of 11,300 kilometers of road that are available in the country, only 904 kilometers of roads, which are 8%, are paved and suitable for everyday utility. Others are unpaved, and they are in critical condition of maintenance (Brima, 2020), as the only good roads are the highways that to leads to provincial headquarters and urban areas, inner section and bypass roads in the capital Freetown are also in deplorable conditions filled with potholes and mud as they are not regular maintenance by the authorities responsible for road construction. These road networks played an integral role in the economic development of Sierra Leone (Bangura, 2021).
The solution proposed is the adoption of plastic and Anaerobic Power plants, Plastic and Anaerobic power plants are highly advanced incinerators that use both plastic and organic waste materials by burning and converting component materials into mechanical energy that will help to turn the turbine that will generate electricity, both plants will provide 24-hour non stops electricity to the national grid and households (United Nation Environment Programme, 2017). As this will reduce air pollution caused by both plastic and municipal waste burnt and left on landfill, and reduce contamination both on the soil on local waterways, it also will increase the electricity production and penetration by 50% and it eco-friendly, and it would increase job creation, and it would reduce Sierra Leone reliance on foreign energy and fossil fuels such as natural gas LPG and others as it will foster the country energy sector to be an example in term of investing in clean sustainable and renewable source of energy which will reduce climate change events in the country (Mutethya, 2020).
The use of discarded plastic waste will be used in producing plastic pellets as asphalt, another recommendation in reducing plastic waste (Springfield, 2019). This plastic pellet will be used as bitumen in both plastic road construction and road maintenance of roads across the country. Plastic pellets will reduce plastic materials discarded on the environment, they are durable in harsh weather conditions compared to conventional roads made with conventional bitumen crude oil it’s affordable and cheap and also lights in design, and also manufactured in one place compared to conventional granule bitumen which is component material is manufactured in different vicinity (Black et al. Mccleard, 2019).
The adoption of plastic and Anaerobic power plants and plastic asphalts for road construction in Sierra Leone would undoubtedly help the country in retrieving plastic waste that has already been disposed of on landfills and nearby waterways that would take centuries to decompose and foster the country a sustainable alternative in utilizing discarded waste on its environment. It would help Sierra Leone become a powerhouse in the region and on the continent when it comes to clean renewable energy that would help other West African countries by partnering with Sierra Leone to access electricity.
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