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Thursday,June 04,2020 17:47 PM

Enforce ban on polythene bags - Anywar

By Andrew Masinde

Added 28th February 2020 12:11 PM

It is estimated that every plastic bag we use in our everyday life, takes anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose and plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.

Enforce ban on polythene bags - Anywar

Left to right: David Duli - WWF Country Coordinator , Speaker of Parliament Rebeca Kadaga and Minister of State for Environment Beatrice Anywar during a climate change campaign recently. Photo by Andrew Masinde

It is estimated that every plastic bag we use in our everyday life, takes anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose and plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.

CLIMATE CHANGE 

KAMPALA - Agencies and organisations mandated to implement and enforce the ban on polythene bags (Kavera) have been ordered to start doing so without fail.

The order was made by Beatrice Anywar, the Minister of State for Environment while addressing journalists at the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) headquarters on Wednesday.

According to Anywar, in 2018, Parliament passed the National Environment Bill, 2017 banning polythene bags below 30 microns following a recommendation from the Committee on Natural Resources, however, it failed because of conflict of interest among the key players meant to enforce the ban.

She, however, said this time any agencies supposed to implement the ban has to do it without fail. She noted she will not listen to any excuse as the country continues to be degraded.

According to Anywar, she will not look on as greedy people continue to let the polythene bags destroy the environment.

"The ban this time has to be successful. The government is going to support all the agencies responsible. Those planning to intervene in the process will have to face the law," Anywar said.

She warned all companies producing polythene bags illegally to stop with immediate effect or they will risk closure.

According to Anywar, polythene bags are destroying the environment and people, yet everyone is silent about it.

"Uganda majorly depends on agriculture. Our future and the economy at large is at stake if we do not fight Kavera," Anywar said.

She stressed that in the East African region, it is only Uganda which has become a dumping ground for plastic,  something that has to change with immediate effect.

Anywar encouraged Uganda to go for alternative bags such as paper bags, and hand-woven baskets that are environmentally friendly, among others. "This will create jobs, especially for the common persons such as women," she said.

She encouraged all schools in Uganda to ensure that they make it a topic to talk about the dangers of polythene bags and why children should not use them.

It is estimated that every plastic bag we use in our everyday life, takes anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose and plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.

This is because the material used in their production cannot be decomposed by bacteria, hence they remain in the environment for years clogging landfills, polluting rivers and, causing harm to nature and wildlife, among others.

Every year, approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil are produced just for producing plastic water bottles.

David Duli - WWF Country Coordinator said WWF is one of the organisations working in the field of wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment, the Minister's directive is welcome because it is not too late to redeem our environment.

According to Duli, the truth of the matter is that the soils, wetlands and other natural resources are chocking with plastic bags. Even the animals are dying as a result of ingesting plastic bags.

"We, however, need to hear more from the Implementing agencies. What strategies are they going to use to ensure that the ban is effected and there is a need for a clear time frame. That's why we shall be able to hold them accountable," Duli said.

He added that for this ban to be effective, it must begin with behavioural change by Ugandans. For as long as many are continuing to provide markets for the kavera, the manufactures will find ways of producing them.

"If we refuse to give them the market, they will surely run out of business and produce eco-friendly carrier bags," Duli suggested.

According to environmental- CSO network, 2018, Uganda consumes over 600 tonnes of plastics per day and most of them are disposed of irresponsibly. Because they take longer to decompose (over 400 years), plastics are creating long term problems that go beyond 16 generations.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 91% of plastics are not recycled and are just found within the ecosystem. Poor disposal such as open burning has led to air pollution, contributing to climate change and 2.3million deaths due to outdoor air pollution.

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