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NEMA, UNBS take further enforcement action on ban of ‘Kaveera’

Written by on December 8, 2021

Following the Government’s announcement of a total ban on plastic carrier bags commonly referred to as ‘Kaveera’ in July, two agencies are working jointly to actualise this bid.

These are the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).

NEMA is mandated to monitor, regulate, supervise and coordinate all activities relating to the environment while UNBS is mandated to enforce product standards.

Given the mandate of the institutions, NEMA and UNBS shall collaborate to undertake joint activities aimed at ensuring compliance with the provisions in the National Environment Act and the standard for flat and carrier plastic bags.

These inspections shall target the manufacturers, importers, distributors, among others.

Entities that will be found to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Act and the standard shall be subjected to an enforcement action including prosecution in courts of law.

The Uganda Standard specification covers the thickness and printing requirements of these bags and also sets 30 microns as the minimum requirement for flat and plastic carrier bags.

Previously, the State Minister of Water and Environment, Beatrice Anywar noted that plastic bags contributed to a marked decline in the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) sub-sector over the last 29 years.

Against this background and on a verge of realizing the targets for social and economic transformation as enshrined in Vision 2040, Cabinet banned the production, importation and use of polythene carrier bags in the country.

 “We are enforcing a ban on the use of carrier bags commonly known as ‘Kaveera’ in Uganda, and we are going for a total ban on plastics in this country,” Anywar emphasized.

The decision to ban ‘Kaveera’ came after an agreement with the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, that brought in play a Cost-Benefit analysis thereby weighing on the revenue grown from ‘Kaveera’ versus the future of this country.

Despite setbacks encountered in implementing this directive before, Anywar revealed how determined the government is this time around to see the triumph of this directive.

However many factors have continued to delay enforcement of plastics ban in Uganda, but a joint operations approach by NEMA and UNBS has been renewed to enforce the ban.

So far, NEMA has undertaken inspections and inventory of facilities manufacturing plastic carrier bags since 2020, during which the manufacturers are informed of the requirements in the Act

Similarly, UNBS has regularly undertaken inspections and inventory of facilities, a process which involves educating manufacturers of the requirements of the Uganda Standard.

“To date, 47 factories have been inspected, 21 factories of which were found to be non-compliant and suspended from production and required to implement corrective actions before resumption of production. Majority of the factories were concentrated in Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja and Mukono,” said UNBS Executive Director, David Livingstone Ebiru.

Ebiru added that UNBS currently has over 41 certified manufacturers of plastic carrier bags and flat bags with 67 valid permits of various products and has seized approximately 133 tonnes of non-conforming plastic carrier and flat bags.

The National Environment Act, 2019, under Section 76(1) prohibits the importation, export, local manufacture, use or re-use of categories of plastic products made of polymers of polythene or polypropylene below 30 microns.

UNBS is a government organization mandated to develop, promote and enforce standards in protection of public health, safety, and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products.

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