Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Hon. Amelia Kyambadde has advised that the plastic carrier bags below 30 microns are phased out of production and use by the public rather than instituting a total ban on them.
Kyambadde says setting the standard thickness of 30 microns and above for acceptable plastic carriers in accordance with the Uganda standard – US773, will go a long way in promoting best practices of waste management, awareness, collection and recycling of plastics.
The Trade Minister was on Wednesday, while meeting MPs on the Natural Resources Committee to discuss production, importation and sale of plastic carrier bags in Uganda, in relation to clause 75 of the National Environment Bill 2017 which makes mention of management of plastics and plastic products.
She says the total ban suggested in the bill doesn’t present a clear phase out strategy by NEMA to handle compensation of workers who could be laid off by affected factories.
“The decision to totally ban the manufacture, importation and use of plastic carrier bags was rushed and there were limited stakeholder consultations,” says Kyambadde.
MPs raised concerns that the Trade Ministry had slowed down the implementation of the ban on plastics.
“We met with the Minster for Environment and officials from NEMA who told us that you did not fully support the ban on plastics,” said Hon. Keefa Kiwanuka, the Committee Chairperson.
Kyambadde, however, told the MPs that the point of contention was that the bill had suggested a total ban on plastic carrier bags rather than distinguishing in micron volumes.
“We support the ban on plastic carriers but it should be restricted to those that are below 30 microns. The bill in its current state would affect even those that are over 30 microns,” the minister said.
Rwampara County MP Hon. Charles Ngabirano advised that the different ministries on the inter-ministerial committee should join hands and unanimously agree to progress the National Environment Bill and 2017.
Kyambadde pledged to have a meeting with the Minister for Water and Environment and other Ministers in a bid to “… harmonize our position on the bill and move it forward.”
Hon. Denis Sabiiti (NRM, Rubanda West County) noted that factories dealing in plastics had been licensed without restrictions on the volume of microns, and asked the minister about strategy in place to collect and recycle plastic carrier bags [kaveera].
The Minister assured the MPs that the Trade Ministry had written to all industries dealing in the manufacture of plastics to ensure proper plastic waste management and set up collection centers.
“We have also assigned officers to follow up these industries and make sure they abide with our set guidelines,” said Amelia.