Uganda: Govt to Reconsider Ottal Ban On Plastics

Kampala, Uganda — Manufacturers of plastics and polythene bags are concerned over Government's move to re-introduce a total ban on plastics and polythene bags even after a law on environment was passed.

President Museveni in March assented to the National Environment bill into law which among other things provides for manufacturers of polythene bags and plastics to recycle plastic waste and also label the polythene bags in a bid to minimize effects to the environment.

Industries engaged in producing plastics are also required to give an annual report on the amount of plastic they have produced, how much has been collected from the public and how much has been recycled among others. The law also bans polythene of below 30 microns.

However, just months after the law has come into effect, Government is conducting a study both on recycling and a total ban of plastics.

Cabinet set up a committee led by John Byabagambi the Minister for Karamoja to study the modalities of recycling plastics and polythene.

However, this caused an uproar among manufacturers who says Government intends to introduce a polythene ban.

Appearing before the committee on Natural Resources on Tuesday, the Minister of Trade Amelia Kyambadde, the Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris and Byabagambe and Members of the committee conflicted on a move to ban plastics.

During the meeting, it emerged that two documents, a cabinet extract of 17th June 2019 called for a study on plastic recycling, while a presidential letter to the Principle Private Secretary Molly Kamukama called on a ban on the plastics days before the law was assented to.

The meeting followed a petition from the plastic manufactures who said they had invested billions of money in manufacturing and recycling plants.

Byabagambi says he is only following a cabinet decision which directed him to conduct a study on the modalities of recycling plastics and polythene bag, but also a study on the total ban on polythene, which has now been implemented in East African states.

Sam Cheptoris, the Ministry of Environment warned that many people are moving out of plastics and manufacturers should prepare for amendments on polythene bags drawing furious reactions from members.

However, the committee questioned why the cabinet extract states that Byabagambe should do a study on the modalities for recycling, but went ahead to meet the manufacturers and told them of a move to totally ban plastics.

Committee chair, Keefa Kiwanuka says the confusion was not acceptable and Government needed to clear the air.

Amelia Kyambadde, the Trade Minister said the two documents could have been a mistake, as she does not know of any proposal to introduce a total ban but only a study on recycling. She says although they conflicted earlier with the Minister of environment, they have come to an agreement since the law is in place.

Kyambadde, however, says that the committee should consider the cabinet decision on studying on recycling and disregard the letter on total ban, and allow her to consult on it.

The Manufacturers expressed satisfaction on the assurance from the committee. According to Allan Ssenyondwa, the Acting Manager Policy and Advocacy at the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) who spoke on behalf of the Manufactures, they were alarmed at the proposed ban, as several people have put in their money.

He, however, says now the manufacturers are convinced following assurance from the Minister of Trade.

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