The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) have renewed commitment to enforcement of plastics ban in Uganda through a joint operation approach.
In a joint statement released on Tuesday morning, NEMA said it has undertaken inspections and inventory of facilities manufacturing plastic carrier bags since 2020, during which the manufacturers of plastic carrier bags are informed of the requirements in the Act.
Similarly, UNBS has regularly undertaken Inspection and certification of manufacturing facilities, a process which involves educating the manufacturers of the requirements of the Uganda Standard; US 773:2007 Plastic carrier bags and nat bags — Specification – a compulsory standard that specifies the requirements for plastic carrier bags and flat bags, both domestically produced and imported for use in Uganda.
To date, forty-seven (47) factories have been Inspected, twenty-one (21) factories of which were found to be non-compliant were suspended from production and required to implement corrective actions before the resumption of production. The majority of the factories were concentrated in Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja, and Mukono,
Currently, UNBS 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 through several enforcement operations inspections.
The Uganda Standard; US 773:2007 Plastic carrier bags and flat bags — 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. The standard further stipulates the following;
- Defects; The bags shall be free from defects such as gels, streaks, pinholes, and particles of foreign matter, indispersed raw materials, cuts and tears that would impair the performance of the bags.
- Color and opacity; the color and level of opacity of the bags shall be as agreed to between the purchaser and the supplier.
- Ease of opening; the bags shall be capable of being opened readily by hand,
- Odour; The polyethylene or polypropylene bags used in the manufacture of bags shall not impart any objectionable odour.
Clause 7.2 of the standard further provides for Consignment slips and marking with the following information on every consignment or batch of bags:
- name of the product; name and address of manufacturer (including country of origin); registered trademark, if any; number of bags in a packet; film thickness specification of each bag; in case of recyclable plastic, the product shall be coded “Recyclable”; recyclable plastic carrier bags shall bear a code number for identification purposes; and all markings on the consignment slips (or bags) shall be either in English, Kiswahili or both.
Clause 9 provides: that no person, company, industry, or trader shall manufacture, import, stockpile, trade, or distribute for local use plastic carrier bags, which are in contravention of this Uganda Standard.
The standard has been in place since 2007, while the National Environment Act came into force on 27th June 2019. “Therefore, all manufacturers, importers, and distributors of plastic carrier bags are required to comply with National Environment Act and the Uganda standard. Similarly, the public is required to ensure that such plastic carrier bags are not used or re-used” the statement reads.
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, the inspections shall target the manufacturers, importers, distributors, among others, and enforcement action, including prosecution in courts of law, shall be taken for entities found to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Act and the Standard.