Uganda in plastic bag ban dilemma

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A dumping site choking with plastic shopping bags. Uganda's environmental regulator intends to enforce a phased ban on the use of plastic bags starting with major retailers on Wednesday April 15. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Michael Wakabi

Posted  Monday, April 13   2015 at  08:54

“For as long as Kenyan manufacturers continue to produce the thin bags, a ban here is impractical because it will continue to be a source despite our best efforts to impound,” he says, adding that the other problem is that the current environmental laws do not provide policy alternatives to plastic bags.

Between 2012 and 2014, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) confiscated 20,000 tons of underweight bags but large numbers still slip through.

Lugwana adds that retailers across the country prefer the thinner bags because they get more pieces per unit of weight sold compared to what they would get if they bought thicker Uganda manufactured bags.

The confusion at policy level was further compounded after NEMA ordered a blanket ban even though the oversight committee wants only carrier bags below 30 microns banned.

“We have made it clear to them that we would not pass their budget unless they effect the ban on carrier bags below 30 microns. What I know is that 90pc of the plastic bags made in Uganda are recycled but URA has failed to control smuggling and dumping from Kenya,” says Mr Achia Remigio, vice chair of the Budget Committee.

Michael Werikhe, the chairperson of the Natural Resources Committee is also surprised that NEMA is trying to enforce a blanket ban.

“We never talked of a blanket ban and there is no new ban. All we are asking is that the law we passed back in 2009 be implemented and we are aware that the industry here is recycling and we are supportive of those efforts but then problem is bags from Kenya,” he said.

Dr Okurut however insists that the ban will go ahead in spite of what parliament says.

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