4 min read
Is Uganda Winning the battle Against Plastic Waste Pollution?

Plastic waste pollution has continued to be a big environmental concern with its devastating effects on soil and water bodies amidst several legal frameworks that the government of Uganda has put in place.To various Stakeholders, if Government facilitates cultural Organizations to take lead in the fight against plastic waste pollution this will be a great deal as they already had environmentally friendly means.According to the leaders, government has failed in enforcing the various laws towards mitigating the production of plastics and its circulation in the public that has affected soil viability to venture into farming, they sighted the recent law against the production and use of polythene bags which has since then remained on paper yet the polythene bags continue to circulate in the public.Mr. Arubaku Bosses Peter the councilor representing Uriama sub county says most of the packaging in Uganda are plastic coated adding that the burden comes to Agriculture.

“This rampart disposal of plastic waste has affected soil fertility which does not support productive agriculture that’s why there is looming hunger allover country and this equally inconveniences the aquatic life. Government needs to regulate industrial production of plastics and focus more on encouraging on the use of plant materials.” Arubaku explained 

Cue Arubaku Bosses Speaking .mp3Statistics from NEMA in March 2023 show that plastics take a lion’s share of this waste with over 600 tones being produced every day throughout Uganda yet only 40% of this waste is collected and disposed of properly, the remaining 60% finds its way into the environment.Most of the common plastic wastes found in Uganda include the polythene bags known to be the Kaveras, plastic bags and other plastic packaging.Sunday Ayikoru Terego district vice chairperson says before the evasion of polythene bags and other forms of plastics the environment was better in the hands of the traditional leaders.

“If you currently move to a trading center, your eyes are overwhelmed with plastics that are used as carriers and all these end up in the environment because people are unbothered”
“We used to take porridge in calabash whose seed you only plant and wait to grow, we used coconut leaves to make bags, caps which were environmentally friendly, I think government should invest more on modifying cultural products, bring back handwork in Primary schools to instill continuity of skills in children other than plastics.” Ayikoru Added.

Cue LV5 vice Sunday Ayikoru .mp3Moses Mandebo, the information officer Lugbara Kari, a cultural organization of the Lugbara tribe notes that instead of government calling for investors to venture in production and recycling of plastic material in the country that are hazardous to the environment, deploying resources to improve local traditional materials that re environmentally friendly will help address the escalating pollution effects of plastics.

“the areas we need to come in a cultural institutions is how to support government in enforcing the laws, and we also expect government to advance funds to promote industries that are producing easily decomposing materials that can be able to address the matter because all the cultural institutions already have their materials that they use to earn livelihood and which are environmentally friendly and can substitute plastics.

Cue Moses_Mandebo_ICT_Lugbara_Kari.mp3

”Cornelius OJobile Arua city Deputy Clerk is still adamant that once funding for environmental mitigation measures are not increased then there is no way the country will fight the plastic pollution.“We receive meager appropriations for environmental activities so there’s nothing we can do.” Cornelius said

National Environment Management Authority NEMA on   February 8th 2023, introduced Express penalty on environmental Act breaches which was expected to commence on April 1st, 2023 with Uganda Police force put on the lead to enforce and instituted an environmental court to handle the suspects.  In this NEMA planned to levy 100,000,000 as fine on persons or companies that poorly manage plastics and finally a fine between 10,000,000 and 6billion shilling for pollution including air, water and sound but this has since then remained in backdoors.SP Josephine Angucia, the Regional Police Spokesperson for West Nile region says no guidelines have been issued to them in relation to the enforcement of the express penalty.

“We are not well equipped with how this enforcement is to be conducted and as a result we can’t starting enforcing”. Angucia stated

Legal dimensions.

In 2017, Uganda joined the clean seas campaign, demonstrating the country’s commitment to curbing the flow of marine litter and plastic waste entering lakes, rivers, and the ocean in this great lakes region.Not only that, in a bid to address the rampart disposal and production of plastics across the country, the government of Uganda came up with the National Environment (waste management) Regulations ACT 2020 that prohibits the importation, sale and use of plastic bags and other plastics used for packaging, and provided for offences and penalties in relation to plastic carrier bags and plastic products but this has since then remained on paper without enforcementWhereas John Engamvile Terego district environment Officer, reveals that the laws meant to regulate production of and use of plastics in the country have not been made known to the public affecting its implementation.

“Most of these laws have been signed at higher level and dissemination of them remain a challenge as a result it becomes difficult to enforce when communities are not sensitized about them and conservativeness is another problem whereby throwing away plastics was a normal thing”. Engamvile explained.

Cue Engamvile John .mp3According United Nations Environment Programme out of  7 billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 per cent has been recycled, 36 percent of all plastics produced are used in packaging, including single-use plastic products for food and beverage containers, approximately 85 per cent of which ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste with an estimated US$ 80- 120 billion an equivalent of UGX 298.955-448.443Trillion annual loss in the value of plastic packaging waste during sorting and processing.

Key To Note:

Uganda as a country produces an estimated 600 metric tones of plastic waste per day, of which only 6% is safely collected and disposed of. The remaining 94% ends up in landfills, waterways, and the environment.This plastic pollution has a number of negative consequences for the environment and human health. It can block drainage channels, leading to flooding. It can also pollute water bodies, harming fish and other wildlife. When plastic waste is burned, it releases harmful pollutants into the air, which can cause respiratory problems.The Ugandan government has taken some steps to address the problem of plastic pollution. In 2009, the government banned the use of plastic bags. However, this ban has been difficult to enforce, and plastic bags are still widely used. In 2020, the government introduced a new law that requires businesses to collect and recycle plastic waste. However, it is too early to say how effective this law will be.There are a number of challenges to reducing plastic pollution in Uganda. One challenge is the lack of awareness about the problem. Many people in Uganda are not aware of the negative consequences of plastic pollution. Another challenge is the lack of infrastructure for collecting and recycling plastic waste. There are few recycling facilities in Uganda, and the ones that do exist are often poorly managed.There are a number of non-profit organizations working to reduce plastic pollution in Uganda. These organizations are working to clean up plastic waste from the environment, raise awareness about the problem, and promote the use of alternative materials to plastic.The fight against plastic pollution is a complex one, but it is one that Uganda is committed to winning. By taking the steps outlined above, the country can make progress in reducing the amount of plastic waste that pollutes its environment.

By Dramadri Federick - Dailywestnile.info 
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