In a renewed fight against plastics pollution, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) have intensified enforcement operations.
HICGI News Agency – Updated at 0155 EAT on Wednesday 12th Jan 2022
KAMPALA- UNBS executive director David Livingstone Ebiru said the two institutions are stepping up their operations starting this month.
“There is renewed commitment to enforce the ban. The water and environment ministry, through Cabinet is calling for a total ban on plastics. For now, we shall enforce standards,” he said.
Ebiru made the remarks on Tuesday during a press briefing at the Uganda National Media Centre in Kampala.
The briefing was convened by NEMA and UNBS to give the country an update on the anti-plastic measures that the country has taken. Ebiru was flanked by NEMA’s executive director, Dr Barirega Akankwasah and top officials from the two agencies.
The standards body said it would go after plastic/polythene bags that are below 30 microns as they are difficult to recycle or reuse. Ebiru said they were targeting the production, distribution and use of plastics, but the enforcement will concentrate on production and distribution.
Previous enforcement drives, Ebiru said, had resulted in the confiscation of 133 metric tonnes of plastics.
He said NEMA had conducted inventories of plastic industries from 2020 and that manufacturers had been sensitised about compliance.
Akankwasah pointed out that plastics were unsightly and cause soil degradation by reducing permeability, making plant growth difficult. In addition, plastics block waste water drainage systems, leading to massive spills of sewage, especially in urban areas and flooding.
As population engage in firefighting measures against plastics, they end up creating even bigger problems. “When burnt improperly at temperatures below 800 degrees Celsius, plastic wastes give off emissions containing dioxins which cause cancer,” Akankwasah said, adding that they also cause death to livestock after ingestion of plastic waste.
Akankwasah said that waste generation per capita is estimated to be one kilogramme per day, particularly in an urban population.
He said Kampala generates 1,500 tonnes of plastic waste every day.
Akankwasah also said plastics constitute 3-5% of the waste collected in most of Uganda’s urban areas, of which about 3% are soft plastics.
He revealed that only about 40% of waste generated is collected by the urban authorities for disposal. The remaining 60% is indiscriminately dumped.
“Indiscriminate dumping of plastics has resulted in environmental pollution, blocking of drainage channels and flooding, particularly in urban areas,” Akankwasah said.
The National Environment Act, 2019, under Section 76 (1) prohibits the import, export, local manufacture, use or re-use of categories of plastic carrier bags or plastic products made of polymers of polyethene or polypropylene below 30 microns.
He said they were targeting manufacturers, importers, distributors. Akankwasah said the enforcement and prosecution shall be undertaken on entities found to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Act.