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Ntege turns plastic waste into hard cash

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th December 2011 05:47 PM

Curiosity led me to William Ntege’s home in Naalya. It is not because it is a state-of-the-art home but because of the number of people that visit this home daily laden with bags of plastic waste.

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Curiosity led me to William Ntege’s home in Naalya. It is not because it is a state-of-the-art home but because of the number of people that visit this home daily laden with bags of plastic waste.

By Vision Reporter

Curiosity led me to William Ntege’s home in Naalya. It is not because it is a state-of-the-art home but because of the number of people that visit this home daily laden with bags of plastic waste.

Well, to you and I, it is waste but to them it is a source of livelihood.  Five years ago, Ntege was a plastic waste collector. He would walk for about 10 hours a day combing through garbage skips in search of all kinds of plastics including used mineral water bottles, jerrycans, basins, cups and plates.

“I started as a plastic waste collector. We would earn about sh200 per kilogramme of waste collected but the people we were collecting the plastics for were making a lot of money. I also decided to become a boss,” Ntege says.

A boss, in this case, employs other people to bring him plastics, which he sells to other industries. If his smile is anything to go by, Ntege’s life has changed for the better.

Ntege cannot tell the number of people he currently employs because he encounters different collectors daily. “The biggest number of the collectors is from the streets. In a day, they earn enough to feed them and actually others have moved on to become bosses like me.

People are fast realising that there is a lot of money in collecting plastic waste, so everyone is joining the trade,” he says.
Ntege sells his collection to Plastic Recycling Industries (PRI), in Nakawa.

At the industry, he is paid between sh500-sh900 per kilogramme of plastic waste. He collects about 10 tonnes per month.
At the end of the month, Ntege says he makes over sh1m because he is still at a small scale.

Upper scale plastic traders make about sh4m per week with a collection of about 15-20 tonnes per month. PRI recycles the plastic waste into flake, which is used as raw material in the manufacture of plastics.  

“PET is produced for export to Asia and Europe and HDPE is locally consumed by companies like Nice House of Plastics,” Mariam Namakula, the PRI production manager, said.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the type of plastic labelLed with the #1 code on or near the bottom of bottles and containers.

It is commonly used to package soft drinks, water, juice and some foods.In China, recycled PET from PRI can be used to make new products, including carpets, fabric for T-shirts, athletic shoes, sleeping bags, winter coats and new PET containers.

PRI employs about 33 permanent staff and 64 casuals. However, the company employs over 2,000 Ugandans indirectly.
The World Bank estimates that 1% of the urban population in developing countries earns a living through this work.

These workers play a valuable role in many cash-strapped nations, serving as a cheap means of recycling.     
But working conditions are hazardous, and the dumping of medical waste poses an enormous threat to the humans in this trade.

The millions of people who earn a living through waste picking contribute to the conservation of the environment.
They also help to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the reuse of materials.

Around the world, waste pickers are organising and fighting for recognition of this significant environmental contribution.
The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers and Allies brings waste pickers from Latin America, Asia and Africa together with support organisations and environmentalists to offer real solutions for climate change mitigation and waste management.

As part of the functional skills training for small micro enterprises (SMEs), Living Earth Uganda staff recently facilitated a functional skills training programme in waste plastic collection and sorting for 20 participants.

“The objective was to equip participants with essential skills in waste plastic collection and sorting; to support opportunities for income generation, business development and increase the promotion of sanitation and hygiene among the communities involved,” according to the Living Earth website.

Living Earth Foundation and its Ugandan partner, Living Earth Uganda, have been working to establish waste plastic collection enterprises in the slums of Kampala, according to their website.

Ntege turns plastic waste into hard cash

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