Kampala/Mbale — President Museveni yesterday ordered 45 plastic manufacturers in the country to stop making polythene bags or kaveera, reviving a shelved government ban on the environmentally hazardous product.
"My message to the plastics industry is that you should manufacture, distribute and sell only permitted quality plastics. The continued manufacture of banned products must stop," the President said in a speech read on his behalf by Water and Environment minister Sam Cheptoris yesterday.
Mr Museveni made the call during the World Environment Day celebrations in Mbale Town.
The President was referencing an earlier ban on manufacture of polythene bags.
"Banning the manufacture, distribution, sale and use is encompassing of the different promoters of these products. This law has not been repealed and should be enforced," he added.
Section 2 of the 2009 Finance Act prohibits the "importation, local manufacture, sale or use of plastic bags" as well as the "importation, local manufacture, sale or use of sacks and bags of polymers of ethene and polyethene with effect from March 31, 2010".
The legislation followed a pronouncement in the 2009/10 budget by the then Finance Minister, Ms Syda Bbumba, banning the manufacture, importation and sale of polythene bags of less than 30 microns used "for conveyance of goods and liquid in order to protect our environment".
A Statutory Instrument issued a year later provided that: "It is prohibited for a person to manufacture, import, sell, use, distribute or otherwise deal in plastic bags, except plastic woven bags for packaging and conveyance of goods and plastics"
Implementation of the ban by National Environment Management Authority (Nema), however, hit a snag following inter-ministerial disagreement on the back of intense lobbying by plastics manufacturers.
There are more than 40 such industries in the country, and insiders say some ministers and other powerful politicians have stakes in them.
In various petitions over the past nine years, the manufacturers have argued that a ban would, in the absence of alternatives, disadvantage shoppers on what to use for carrying groceries home, reduce job as industries scale down production and contract tax revenue.
Mr Museveni said since natural processes cannot degrade plastics in the environment, the continued manufacture, use and poor disposal practices of plastics adds to the accumulation of the hazardous materials in compartment of the environment.
The theme of this year's World Environment Day was; "Beat plastic pollution."