The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) has held a 5-day workshop with partners to explore various avenues of converting plastic waste into useful substances such as petrol, diesel, gas and other products.
This 4th African Materials Research Society-IAST-Nyansapo workshop was on the theme, “Strengthening research and innovation capacities in sustainable energy production”. It was organised in collaboration with the 20th Anniversary Committee of the School of Engineering Sciences and UG@75 Anniversary Committee.
Opening the workshop on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori, Provost of College of Humanities, extended appreciation to the French Embassy for its support through its FSPI Nyansapo research partnership initiative. He stated the University is committed to all sustainable plastic waste management and valorization initiatives.
Prof. Ofori extended an invitation to all stakeholders in the public, private, and NGO sectors to partner with the University in pushing the frontiers of knowledge together to address the twin goal of developing sustainable alternative energy sources as well as addressing the plastic waste menace and its deleterious environmental implication.
The Guest of Honour, French Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Jules Armand Aniambossou, indicated that the workshop is emblematic of the French Embassy’s support for the national and global topics of plastic pollution. He noted the French Embassy has engaged in collaborative activities with the University of Ghana such as the posting of four French researchers to the University.
One major objective of the embassy he mentioned, is to amplify the link between French and Ghanaian institutions and also reinforce the collaborations through new partnerships, exchanges, joint curricula, double diplomas, joint research programmes, and joint research facilities. H.E. Aniambossou highlighted other activities and initiatives that France is undertaking in Ghana in the area of higher education and research through the French Embassy.
Giving the introductory remarks earlier, Prof. David Dodoo-Arhin, Director of the Institute of Applied Sciences and Principal Investigator, Nyansapo-UG Project, explained that single-use plastic waste is the major constituent of industrial and municipal waste in cities after food and paper waste. He stated that plastic waste results in varying degrees of environmental impacts including trapping and chocking marine organisms, as is associated with socio-economic and public health impacts.
Prof. Dodoo-Arhin, emphasised efforts on the national front, stating that through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Government has formed the Ghana National Plastic Action Partnership to support public and private sector transition to a plastic circular economy thereby ensuring sustainable plastics management. He specified that the “Debris-In-Energy-Out: Adding Value to Single-Use Plastic Waste in Ghana” project seeks to remediate the menace of plastic waste by reprocessing them into high-value fuel and chemicals for households or small running engines.
He noted that this multidisciplinary project involves students and researchers from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, Dept. of Operations and Management Information Systems (University of Ghana Business School), Technology Consultancy Centre of KNUST and CNRS RAPSODEE Centre; IMT Mines d’Albi, France.
Prof. Dodoo-Arhin revealed that the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST), UG has been selected to host the International Union of Materials Research Societies’ 17th International Conference on Advanced Materials in 2025.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS) stressed that waste management is not just about its disposal but understanding the chemistry behind it and designing the appropriate method for its disposal. He encouraged the team to look for possible intellectual property issues as they go along with methods of disposing waste.
In a brief message by Dr. Florent Engelmann, the Nyansapo Project coordinator and the Scientific Attaché of the French Embassy, explained that the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI) is a key instrument of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs for the development of partnerships with foreign countries which enables embassies to carry out innovative, high-impact and high-visibility actions for the benefit of local people.
Dr. Engelmann indicated that the Nyansapo project is specifically designed to provide support to innovative higher education and research projects jointly implemented by teams of Ghanaian and French researchers.
Prof. Elsie Effah Kaufmann, Dean of the School of Engineering Sciences and workshop co-host, expressed excitement about the project which she noted involved the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She encouraged all stakeholders to actively participate in events organised by the Engineering @ 20–Anniversary Team.
After the opening ceremony, Prof. David Dodoo-Arhin led the team and participants to the project site to demonstrate the conversion of plastic waste to various fuels by a pyrolysis reactor.
In attendance were, Prof. Ange Nzihou, IMT Mines d’Albi, France; Prof. Clara Santato, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada; Prof. Pierre-Jean Alarco, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada; Michael Commey, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Esther Clare Attionu, Project Officer, Embassy of France and Staff of the Embassy of France.