Environment

GOVERNMENT CHALLENGED TO BAN SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

By Peter Akugizibwe Araali

KAMPALA: In an effort to combat plastic pollution, and stop continued use of Single-Use Plastic Carrier shopping bags (SUPBs) items, Geoffrey Kamese the Executive Director Bio-Vision Africa has challenged the Government of Uganda to implement the bans on Single-Use Plastic items in the country.

This was sounded on Wednesday afternoon while addressing the press at Bio-Vision African Head Offices in Ntinda.

He noted that Single-Use Plastic Bags have become a pervasive sight on Ugandan landscape noting they are seen stuck on trees, as litter in our neighborhoods, floating in the waterways and as a general aesthetic eyesore of the environment.

Kamese also asserted that the perceived convenience and affordable cost of single-use carrier shopping bags has resulted in their widespread consumption; unfortunately however, the improper use and disposal of SUPs and other plastics has exacerbated the plastic pollution on the Ugandan landscape.

He says that plastic pollution has been recognized to be a global problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

Uganda generates approximately 600 metric tons of plastic waste every day.

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During the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) sitting in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 2, 2022 delegates adopted a resolution to pave way for the establishment of a legally binding global treaty by 2024 to end plastic pollution.

This historic resolution is titled End plastic pollution Towards an internationally legally binding instrument.

The decision by UNEA to work towards a legally binding agreement is an indicator of the gravity of the plastic problem globally.

The Government of Uganda has made several attempts to ban the manufacture, importation, trade and use of single-use carrier bags and flat plastic bags bellow 30 microns, however, the implementation of the ban has not been effective.

The ban was first announced in 2007 and further announcements followed in 2009, 2015, 2018 and recently in 2021, government renewed its commitment to enforce the ban.

The implementation of the ban has not been effective probably due to structural and instrumental powers of the plastic industry, poorly enforced plastic bag legislation and resistance from stakeholders.

Last year, Bio Vision Africa (BiVA) in collaboration with three other NGOs from the East African states of Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda conducted a study to investigate illegal manufacture, distribution and trade of SUPs within the East Africa region.

BiVA’s investigation into illegal manufacture, distribution sell both within the country and across the borders covered areas of Kampala, Mukono (Mbalala and Namanve), Iganga, Jinja, Mayuge, Namayingo, Busia, Tororo, Malaba, Mbale and Suama border in Bukwo district and Western Kenya.

The investigation found out that Uganda has approximately 47 plants registered with the Uganda Manufactures Association (UMA) that manufacture single-use plastic carrier bags.

Many of these plastic industries are located near big towns such as Kampala, Jinja, Mbale, Mukono and then distribute in many parts of the country, and even smuggle to neighboring Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan through our porous border points.

Geoffrey Kamese says they have recognized the fact that some states within the East African Community (EAC) have taken individual efforts to introduce regulations that ban the manufacture, importation/exportation, and Use/consumption of plastic carrier bags.

Rwanda began its efforts in 2008 and has had the most successful outcome within the EAC. Kenya followed in 2017 and Tanzania in 2019. Despite the bans on single-use plastic carrier bags, the case studies in each of the EAC countries have shown that the bans have created spaces for cross-border smuggling of these plastic bags.

The illicit trade aims to serve the consumer market that is still unclear regarding the alternatives, despite several being available, including traditional African ones.

The investigative report on illegal manufacture, distribution and trade in Single-Use Plastic items for Eastern Africa recommends several actions to curb this illicit trade and the growing problem caused by single-use plastic carrier bags within the EAC region.

 

Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us? Email us at editorial@ugreports.com

 

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