Ugandans Give New Life to Plastic Bags

Progressive environmental policies sometimes come from unusual places like Uganda, which banned plastic bags in July of this year because they have become so problematic for the environment.

Now local and international NGOs are helping Ugandans in a suburb of the capital city of Kampala to collect plastic bags and turn them into items like baskets, handbags, shoes and roofing tiles. The material would otherwise be left to clog drainage systems, contributing to flooding, or hurt livestock who eat and digest them.

The bags can also spread malaria -- warm water pools in them creating an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. They also contaminate soil and plants, and leak color additives into food. Recently, the United Nations Environment Program announced a new campaign with an emphasis on curbing production of the bags, promoting re-use, and recycling of plastic waste in Africa.

The bag project in Kawempe, Uganda is also providing an alternative way for impoverished residents to generate income. "Locals can now earn a living through collecting solid plastic and polythene waste material," said Nasser Takuba, the division chairman of Kawempe.Ugandans aren't the first Africans to turn ugly waste materials into pretty baskets; last year, we wrote about how southern Africans are weaving baskets with Zulu patterns out of telephone wire. And the photo above is in fact from another bag recycling initiative in Ethiopia.

Takuba noted that the Uganda program has received assistance from Water Aid Uganda, the French Embassy and Sustainable Sanitation and Water Renewal Systems, a local NGO operating in Mulago III, Bwaise II and Kyebando parishes. :: Via AllAfrica.com

Tags: Africa | Ethiopia | Plastic Bags | Recycling | Uganda

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