Climate ChangeThey Call It Plastic Waste , We Call It Resources.

Marie Nadine IsimbiDecember 8, 202216616 min
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Plastic pollution is a problem that the whole world is facing. The increase in plastic use in the last decades has been remarkable; and globally, we are generating over 6.3 billion of plastic each year as stated by the Hannah & Max, 2018.  study report. In this article titled “They Call It Plastic Waste , We Call It a Resource,” we shall explore different case studies of the theme in question.

plastic waste
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Moreover, only 9% of plastic is currently being recycled; about 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps, or the natural environment according to the (Hammami et al. , 2017), study report and  over 1 million seabirds, 100,000 sea mammals die yearly due to plastic waste in seas as stated by the  (UN, 2017) report .

But Just How Damaging Is This Plastic Pollution :

These seas are a source of seafood that we consume, and some of them are contaminated with micro-plastic, and it is estimated that one-third ends up on our plate (Grant Tinsley, 2020). This means that we consume microplastics, and it leads to the development of bisphenol A in our body, which is likely to cause breast, prostate cancer, and other metabolic disorders in our body .  

For the environment, the presence of plastic waste in the landfill contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.  This causes climate change by trapping heat, and they also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution according to the John . B. Mitchell. study report. Regarding this effect of plastic pollution, many countries have failed to ban plastic production and use like Uganda.

 

Why Has Uganda Failed to Ban Plastic Production and Use ?

According to the  (New Vision, 2019) It is estimated that at least 600 tonnes of plastics are disposed of in Uganda every day and 90% are disposed of irresponsibly. Due to this, 60% of stray cattle in Uganda die due to polythene bags as stated by the Fahim Franz Kremeier study report.

According to the (Apophia, 2019) study report ,In Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, leaders estimated that they spend 10.5 billion shillings every year to unblock the drainage system of debris – including plastic bags. The poor management of environmental practices leads to 80% of disease in Uganda

However, plastic production is one of the developed sectors in Uganda. According to Shamim Nabatanzi, the administrator at Uganda Plastic Manufacturers and Recyclers Association (UPMRA), a total of 60 plastic businesses engage more than 6,000 people full-time and 20,000 people part-time to produce and distribute the plastics as stated by the (Apophia,2019). study report.

You may start blaming Uganda for not stepping up to find alternative ways of stopping this plastic production, but with the number of employees ; it might result in job loss.

Unique opportunity for Uganda

Uganda could benchmark on understanding how Operation 414 social enterprise in Rwanda operates. It is a social  enterprise that promotes sustainability in waste management(circular economy). Operation 414 recycles  PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles into bricks. 

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 These bricks are made from plastic and sand. We melt the plastic to a point where it has a texture good enough to be mixed with sand,” said Awoke. “When it is still in that state, it is mixed with sand according to the proportion we are going to make, and then they can be compressed or not, depending on the plastic-type,” he added.

He says currently, out of 1.2 kg of plastic bottles equaling almost 80 soda bottles, Awoke is able to make more than 40 bricks, which he says is affordable and profitable at the same time because one square meter is 8000 Rwandan Franc(rwf).

He said that there’s no risk of the bricks melting because the sunlight doesn’t create that much heat to the extent of melting the bricks, which makes the bricks safe to use and they are easily repaired. He said that this project focuses on providing affordable construction materials to the community especially in Kigali city. He said that this project will facilitate infrastructure development.

                           

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There are a number of projects like this that are being implemented around Africa; Uganda has a unique opportunity in producing construction materials looking at the number of plastic waste accumulated on a daily basis and it is estimated that 80% of the roads in Uganda are unpaved according to Kiiza, Bernadetta ; 2100 km of this estimated percentage of national road network they despair due to the mining activities and the government in 201/16 allocated UGX 3 Trillion allocated to the road sub sector  but only  417 billion was allocated for road maintenance. 

With the unique opportunity that Uganda has, this allocated money could cover over 14,532,428 km since we know that 1km cost 28694.45 Ugandan shilling (Ugx).                                       

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This can also be a good opportunity for Uganda to work on infrastructure in slum areas that will promote a circular economy and help Uganda develop in a sustainable way in changing the narrative of being one of the contributors to plastic waste in general.

Read more on the circular economy :

YO-Waste – A Plastic & Solid Waste Management Ugandan Tech Startup.

Transitioning Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Opportunities

Marie Nadine Isimbi

Marie Nadine Isimbi is a conservationist/activist. On April 2nd 2022, Isimbi graduated from college with a Bachelors of Arts(Hons) in Global Challenges degree with a specification in environmental and wildlife conservation. Has work experience in the conservation sector of cumulatively 6+ months in Africa. Worked with reputable local and international organizations. Partnered with diverse people from different cultures and regions in Africa. Developed skills set educating community on the importance of conserving the natural resources for the future use and living a sustainable lifestyle especially in East Africa. She is passionate about storytelling and she believes that Storytelling influences us to do good.

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