KAMPALA — The Rethink Plastics campaign was launched at Kiswa Primary School by the Uganda Scouts Association in partnership with Worldwide Fund for Nature and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa under the theme ‘Rethink Plastic, Saving our planet together, one challenge at a time’. The campaign seeks to create awareness and grassroots education of responsible use and disposal of plastic waste across the country.
According to Caroline Ajulong, Chief Commission Community Development and Projects at Uganda Scouts Association, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the environment was degraded, and scouts play a critical role in our communities.
“Scouts are closer to the community because we have a huge network. We have different methods of working; Life in nature speaks to conservation, working in groups; we have patrol groups that will support in rolling out the campaign in schools, Symbols – we believe in rewards, therefore, shall reward schools that managed to maintain their tree nursery bed, transport and grow the tress to six (6) months. Our goal is to plan at least 60M trees in five (5) years. In partnership with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda, we shall also train young people on how to sort and recycle plastics,” she shared.
In his remarks at the event, David Duli, Country Director, Worldwide Fund for Nature said that building up to the Earth Hour 2022, it is critical to focus on the importance of all water bodies – lakes, rivers, wetlands, and ultimately, the ocean that suffers from the negative impacts of both plastic, and other types of pollution and asked government to put in more efforts on implementation of policies.
“We recognise government efforts to ban single-use plastics and call for more efforts to strengthen the enforcement of the ban in Uganda. We have confidence that in partnership with all stakeholders, this campaign will go in developing awareness and conviction. We encourage Ugandans and other global citizens to adopt more sustainable alternatives,” he cautioned.
To achieve this objective, we call all stakeholders to spread messages regarding the dangers of plastics. We also call upon the private sector to strengthen the process of recycling including turning plastic waste into other products that do not disrupt the environment. Provision of alternatives will also be critical for adopting the desired change. The future belongs to the young people in this assembly today. We have a role to work very closely with them to attain a No plastic in nature future. Let us reshape the future!” reiterated.
Samuel Kangave, Manager Plastic Recycling Industries (PRI) an initiative of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda (CCBA) cautioned the public about the proper use of plastics and why it shouldn’t be left to only the private sector since it’s a general problem that requires a joint effort.
“Today’s business environment dictates that we build a circular economy, it’s something that all companies need to adopt. PRI was incepted with the aim of not only recycling plastics from the environment but also encouraging proper plastic management in the community. Among the things we are doing is one; once collected, we are manufacturing plastic pavers that are being sold back in the community and secondly turning them into pallets for further processing into plastic products,” he said.
“Through our global campaign dubbed “World without waste” that was launched in2018. We have committed to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone we sell by 2030. We recognize our responsibility in solving the plastic waste crisis and are supporting different initiatives with the same agenda. World Without Waste, our ambitious sustainable packaging initiative, aims to create systemic change through a circular economy for our packaging,” he said.
Representing the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Anita Among, hailed the Uganda Scouts Association for demanding the implementation of the laws for the public interest.
“Re-shape our future, rethink plastics’ calls upon all Ugandans nationwide to change their mindset, effect changes in their daily lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on the environment and human health. It is now evidently clear that over-reliance on plastics is a major environmental challenge, especially considering the pollution that comes with badly managed plastic waste. As part of this campaign, I want to task all corporate companies and organizations to sign a “Pledge Board” to rethink the use and management of plastics, carryout their social cooperate responsibility, reduce new plastic production by producing re-usable plastics, recycling the ones in circulation, and ensuring a better and healthier environment.
This campaign aims at keeping Uganda clean, green and to close the youth employment gap through green growth by planting 60 million trees in Uganda over the next 5years starting with Elgon, Albertine, Rwenzori then later the whole country. In support of the presidential industrial campaign massive high-value fruit tree planting is the only sure way to generate sustainable industrialization”, he encouraged.
Before the event, the environmentalists took to the streets of Kampala carrying placards demonstrating against continuous use of polythene bags and single-use bottles regardless of the vice being outlawed. They demanded the immediate implementation of The National Environment Regulations, 2020 and the National Environment act 2019 that requires the private sector to be responsible for collecting the wastes they litter.
According to NEMA plastics constitute 3-5% of the waste collected in most of Uganda’s urban areas, of which about 3% are soft plastics.