A new ‘weapon’ to curb the waste management issues in Uganda’s capital, Kampala has been launched. The objective is to encourage and increase the collection of plastic wastes for recycling purposes. The directives were given by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director Jennifer Musisi.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Ms Musisi said the initiative will not only create jobs for the urban poor but will also keep Kampala clean from plastic waste.
“Everything has gone plastic. It is not just beverages, there are foodstuffs, cosmetics and there is so much plastic in our communities. Unfortunately, this is not biodegradable and even after using them, people have no way of getting rid of them” she said at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa at KCCA headquarters.
Most of the city’s drainage channels such as Lubigi have been sealed off with plastic waste, accelerating floods in the city. Unfortunately, according to Ms Musisi, it is very costly for KCCA to unblock them.
In 2006, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa set up a plastic recycling plant in Nakawa. The plant receives close to 300,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste from within and around Kampala.
However, the director public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda, Mr Patrick Oyuru, said about 50 per cent of the plastic waste in Kampala is still unaccounted for.
“We know that currently from the city, we take about 18 per cent of all the plastic that goes to the drains or is poorly disposed. The other companies collect about 34 per cent. We cannot explain where the remaining 50 per cent goes,” Mr Oyuru said.
So far, the plastic waste collected has been turned into roofing tiles, composite wood and some has been exported as flex from the low density plastics. Plans are underway to manufacture furniture such as chairs, tables and beds.
This initiative, according to Ms Musisi presents a lucrative business opportunity to Ugandans within and around Kampala.
Until now, plastic waste collection in Uganda has been an informal trade with women accounting for 80 per cent of the plastic waste collectors and earning about Shs60,000 per week.
Now, these recycling efforts will provide 1,500 jobs, especially for the urban poor.
According to the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers, there are an estimated 15 million people globally who currently make their living from waste picking and many earn less than a dollar a day.
The new strategy
Current plastic waste collectors earn Shs170 per kilogramme. This is expected to rise to Shs500 per kilogramme.
KCCA will create collection centres within the city to ensure they are transported to the recycling plant. The authority will also register groups that will collect the plastics and like all businesses, it will attract a tax.