KAMPALA – In a bid to streamline waste management, with a provision requiring factories that generate waste to subject their employees to annual medical checks, National Environment Management Authority has drafted a new law.
The National Environment Bill, 2017, which is before Parliament, once passed, will repeal and replace the National Environment Act.
In a draft Bill seen by PML Daily, the new law outlaws dumping of e-waste such as phones, refrigerators or computers in landfills or unauthorised places.
“If e-equipment is sold or delivered through a channel outside of the shop premises, including by mail order or via the internet, the product steward shall establish an effective system for the return of similar quantities of e-waste or more, if there is extra capacity to do so, for the same product ranges and having the same functions as the products sold or distributed by the product steward,” the Bill reads in part.
The law also mandates Local Governments to collect e-waste at a fee or provide incentives for the same.
The proposed law further prohibits a waste handler to landfill – liquid waste, flammable waste, explosive or reactive waste, electrical and electronic waste, infectious healthcare waste, radioactive or corrosive waste and all non-biodegradable plastics such as carrier bags.
The Bill lists products that may be taken back to include consumer goods past shelf life, off specification products, products that are no longer needed by the user, discontinued products; prohibited products, glass, plastics, ceramics and associated waste; and electrical and electronic products destined for disposal.
Under the proposed law, the other wastes such as glass, tyres and waste from research and education facilities will require approval from Nema before being discarded.
Although there are many landfills in flood areas in Uganda today, the Bill outlaws contamination of water.
Dr Tom Okurut, the Executive Director Nema, says the Bill once passed into law will outlaw plastics use just as it is in Kenya and Rwanda.
“Even with the new law, we must care for our environment; clean it, plant trees and take care of the waste,” Dr. Okurut said.
Mr Sam Cheptoris, the minister of water and environment said the proposed law is good and would help protect the environment but added that Uganda needs the enactment of a tougher law to end pollution.
The Finance Act of 2009 banned plastic carrier bags and second-hand products containing hazardous substances to protect the environment, safe guard public health and agriculture. However, there have been challenges in the implementation of the ban after manufacturers lobbied for a longer grace period.
According to Nema an estimated 600 tonnes of plastic are disposed of daily and that Kampala city alone accounts for the vast chunk of plastic waste, which is littered, clogging drainage channels, sewage systems, wetlands and natural water courses.
Reports indicate that in rural Uganda plastic waste degrades the soil and pollutes the environment endangering human life and animal-life.
The French ambassador to Uganda Ms. Stephanie Rivoal, pointed out that plastics have led to the decline of soil productivity and fish species in Lake Victoria and asked Ugandans to reject plastics bags.
“There is no Planet B. This is our home. We must do everything to protect it,” Ms. Rivoal said.
He said besides the new law, reinforcement of the current legal regime on pollution and waste management to provide measures to protect the environment from pollution and degradation must be upheld.
Mr Charles Wakube, the Mbale district environment officer said besides the National Environment Bill, 2017, good local knowledge and traditional practices, complemented with new technologies and innovation can help end pollution.
He said through schools, places of worship and within communities, environment champions can be groomed and a no-pollution-generation will emerge.