NEMA’s efforts to enforce the ban have been frustrated by business interests and unfortunately, Government has not walked the talk
By Dennis Katungi
Among the many irritants in our city and other towns is the sight of dumped empty plastic bottles as well as the polythene carrier bags generally known as ‘kavera'. Within Kampala and its environs, it's a common sight - heaps of dumped rubbish including the two plastics and kavera.
I wonder how the animals roaming this city survive! Quite often I see cattle and goats at Karerwe and other areas feeding on these dump-heaps of kaveera which is known to kill them once ingested.
It is possible some die, but we may never know. This is an indictment on City and Local authorities with responsibility for garbage collection and recycling. They are not equal to the task. The Government is equally unserious about the menace.
Way back in 2009, Government banned the importation, manufacture and use of polythene bag - of gauge below 30 microns. The ban was based on the effects the kavera has on the environment namely; clogging of water channels both in urban and rural towns and areas, impeding smooth water filtration and percolation into soils, producing dangerous chemical products when used to wrap or cover food stuffs, releasing cancerous fumes in the air when burnt, posing danger to human and animal lives.
NEMA's efforts to enforce the ban have been frustrated by business interests and unfortunately, Government has not walked the talk. It succumbed to pressure from big businesses who are the major taxpayers at the expense of health and the well being of our environment. Equally, government has not heeded advice from civil society on possible alternatives to the kavera.
How pleasant it was mid last week when I received an email bulletin from Simon Kaheru, the Director, Public Affairs at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Uganda highlighting the venture, Plastics Recycling Industries (PRI) in Nakawa Industrial Area.
This Company, affiliated to Coca-Cola will salvage the sector by establishing a new trade route, through which recycled plastics reclaimed in Uganda can earn the country exports revenue in India.
The venture, if it succeeds should save Uganda in terms of cleaning up our environment, but also providing a huge revenue stream as well as employment for Ugandans.
Plastics Recycling Industries has engaged buyers from India and signed a contract committing the recycling arm of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa to supply 240 tonnes over the next one month.
"Our goal is to work with partners to recover and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the bottles we introduce into our market as Century Bottling Company and Rwenzori Bottling Company, by 2020" said Simon Kaheru, the Public Affairs and Communications Director at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Uganda.
Not only do they aim to collect & recycle their own plastics, but all plastic waste dumped will be recovered and converted into economical and commercial use. Currently, they collect over 220 tonnes of plastic waste per month, but it's a drop in the ocean. We still see a lot of plastics dumped around us.
They need to engage partners and small to medium sized enterprises to help in this effort of collecting plastics. What I did not see in the Coca-Cola Uganda bulletin was a solution for Kavera which is equally terrible to our environment. Quite often, I read that entrepreneurs see opportunities where the average see problems.
Are we short of entreprenuers in Uganda? If Government has failed in places, can the private sector provide a raft of solutions while profiting from them and creating employment?
In the meantime Kudos to Coca-Cola Uganda for the initiative.
The writer is the communications and media relations manager of the Uganda Media Centre