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Environmentalists root for circular economy to end plastic waste

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Sam Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment seconds the initiative

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | In a bid to address plastic waste in the environment, which comes with associated consequences such as clogged drainage channels and polluted water bodies, environmental enthusiasts have asked the public to embrace a circular economy as opposed to a linear economy. This was during the Uganda Environmental Forum that took place at Kampala Serena Hotel, under the theme “Enabling Uganda’s transition to a circular economy”, attended by several dignitaries.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, that involves reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum.

According to the Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Dr. Barirega Akankwasah, a circular economy presents opportunities for people involved in the value chain as opposed to a linear economy which involves single use and dump off of products.

“The circular economy focuses on minimising wastage, re-use as long as possible, and extracting maximum value for the products; we must devise methods to keep using the same resources despite population growth,” he stated.

Akanwasah added: “We must educate consumers about sustainable consumption; we need to rally them to shy away from single-use products because they can’t allow the transition to a circular economy.”

He asked Government to offer incentives in the form of tax holidays, and rebates to encourage production. “We need to foster collaboration between Government, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and communities to accelerate the circular economy,” he stated.

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Sam Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment while officiating the event said manufacturers should design production lines to utilize what would be considered waste, as alternatives.

This, he said would not only save the environment but also create jobs in the value chain. At the same event, the Minister also launched the National Strategy for promoting plastic circularity in Uganda 2023-2028.

“When you see all the litter, how do you feel? Do the manufacturers feel happy or do they see it the other way? I think we should have some remorse,” said Minister Cheptoris.

Andrew Kilonzo, the Managing Director of Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) said the brewery has for decades invested in circular glass bottle use in the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages.

“As a business, we are a member of this society, come July this year, we shall use PET that has 40% recycled material; we are committed to grain-to-glass sustainability,” he stated.

He also said UBL has in place an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) to treat water before it is disposed of back to its source.

On carbon emission reduction, Kilonzo said: “Twelve months ago, we commissioned a state-of-the-art biomass boiler worth UGX 40b; we use coffee husks and Sugarcane bagasse from farmers; we are using what was previously waste, our carbon emissions have reduced by 92%.”

The Deputy Chairman, of the Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee Lawrence Songa Biyika said that from a global perspective, food waste ending in landfills contributes 10% of the world green greenhouse emissions whereas the extractives sector contributes half of the world’s carbon emissions.

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