UGANDA – Beverage companies in Uganda have signed letters of intent that jointly seeks to establish the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), a non-profit, industry-driven and financed environmental solution for post-consumer plastic bottles.

The companies include Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda (CCBU), Makwana Industries, Harris International, Uganda Breweries Limited and PepsiCo/Crown Beverages (CBL).

Under the arrangement, the member companies will pay a monthly levy to the PRO which will use the money to execute additional plastic waste collection and recycling initiatives in Uganda.

This creates a monetary value for post-consumer PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, which incentivizes collection and recycling and ensures post-consumer PET is diverted from landfill and does not impact negatively on the environment.

Speaking at the signing of the letters of intent in Kampala, Mr. Melkamu Abebe, general manager of CCBU said a solution for post-consumer plastic packaging was critical in order to minimize its impact on the environment.

“The Producer Responsibility Organization will act as a self-regulator for members but will also recruit recyclers and subsidize recycling through contracts and developing high-value end-uses for recycled plastics,” he said.

The move demonstrates the commitment of these companies that manufacture, import, or sell PET packaged products to take responsibility and create a circular economy for PET packaging.

This comes a year after Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, signed an agreement with Yo-Waste, Ecoplastile and Asante Waste Management to reduce plastic waste pollution in Kampala.

Under the partnership, the three companies set up more collection centers in the community and supply Plastic Recycling Industries (PRI) with plastic collected.

According to Kirunda Magoola, Public Affairs & Communication Director at CCBA, under the ‘World without Waste’ campaign, Uganda has continued to register commendable progress in collecting at least 78% of the plastic produced.

The campaign targets to collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone sold by 2030 turning 50% into recycled materials.

Uganda, however, continues to be the region’s hotspot for mismanaged single-use plastic waste because the environmental laws are not strictly enforced, and polythene producers seem to be above the law.

A recent joint report by environmental conservation organizations in the region, including Kenya’s Centre for Environmental Justice and Development, identified Uganda as the main source of most plastic bags smuggled into Kenya and the rest of East Africa.

With nearly 50 registered producers of single-use plastic carrier bags, and an unknown number of illicit ones, Uganda is a key production hub of plastic bags. The country hosts many of plastic manufacturers who relocated from Kenya after the 2017 ban.

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