The Minister for Trade, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, has advised against an immediate ban on kaveera but rather a gradual phase out of production and use of the plastic carrier bags.
Kyambadde, who was appearing before the Parliament Committee on Natural Resources, said an immediate ban on plastic carrier bags below 30 microns doesn’t present a clear phase out strategy by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to handle compensation of workers who could be laid off because of the decision.
“The decision to totally ban the manufacture, importation and use of plastic carrier bags was rushed and there were limited stakeholder consultations,” said Kyambadde.
The Minister was Wednesday, 3 October 2018 appearing before the Parliament Committee considering the National Environment Bill, 2017. The Bill seeks to repeal and replace the National Environmental Act to make it conform with the existing government policies; continue with the existence of the National Environment Management Authority as a coordinating, monitoring, regulatory and supervisory body on all matters concerning the environment; to address environmental concerns arising out of petroleum activities; to provide for the management of plastics and plastic products.
Clause 75 of the Bill says that the Minister may, by regulation, prohibit or restrict the import, export, local manufacture, use or reuse of all categories of plastics or plastic products made of polymers of ethane or polythene.
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 (NRM, Kiboga East), the Committee Chairperson.
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].
Minister Kyambadde said that setting the standard thickness of 30 microns and above for acceptable plastic carriers in accordance with the Uganda standard – US773, will promote best practices of waste management, awareness, collection and recycling of plastics.
She said that the point of contention was that the Bill provided for 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,” she said.
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 by our set guidelines,” said Kyamadde.
She also suggested that Clause 75 of the Bill be amended by inserting the imposition of a green levy on manufacturers of plastics and plastic products, at a rate determined by the Ministers for Water and Environment, Trade and Industry and Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
“The green levy shall be for the purposes of raising funds to facilitate the management of plastics and plastic products, with an estimated Shs8 billion collected annually for the purpose,” she said.