, citing the Kampala Monitor, reports that faced with a ban on the production of thin but convenient polythene bags, consumers and manufacturers have adopted new innovative ways to overcome the hurdle. The latter have increased the thickness of the bags, while maintaining the original design and specifications as the banned product.

“We have not contravened any law but we are selling what is acceptable to the government,” said Mr Issa Ssekito, the spokesman of Kampala City Traders Association.


The thin transparent polythene bag is mainly used as a convenient package for milk, sugar, snacks, bread, and other household groceries.

“The kaveera [polythene bag] has made shopping very convenient; you do not have the burden of carrying a bag to go shopping; you can shop any time,” said Mr Mark Kamukama, one of the many Ugandans who are yet to come to terms the possibility of losing the most convenient but environmental unfriendly package.

Mr Frank Muramuzi, the executive director of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, in an earlier interview with Business Power, said: “Polythene bags are dangerous to the environment because they take millions of years to degrade”.

Due to environmental concerns and the difficulties in the disposal of polythene bags and plastic containers, the government banned the production and importation of polythene bags less than 30 microns and imposed an excise duty of 120 per cent on other bags above 30 microns in a move seen as precursor to the total ban of polythene bags.

Traders and manufacturers were given a transitional period of up to September 30 to allow for clearance of the products in stock. With the deadline fast approaching, manufacturers and astute businessmen have found new and innovative ways to evade the strong arm of the government.

The presence of alternative forms of packaging such as paper bags, and the traditional kikapu, a shopping basket woven out of palm leaves, which had become obsolete, has also grown on the market. Fast food restaurants and some supermarkets around town now use paper bags as alternative form of packaging.

Ms Sarah Namuddu, a trader in traditional crafts along Luzira Road, said: “There is a time when most of our clients were tourists but nowadays there is an increasing number of Ugandans interested in our bikapu.”

She said bikapu are sold at Shs3,000 to Shs10,000, depending on the size and the quality, which is relatively expensive compared to Shs100 to Shs500 paid for polythene bags.


This coupled with the fact that alternative packages such as the paper bags have a relatively short-lived life span, has maintained the presence polythene bags on the market, despite complaints from environmentalists.

“Alternatives are more expensive and not readily available,” said Mr Hillary Obonyo, the executive director of Uganda Manufacturers Association. We are very much pro the environment but we want a permanent solution to the problem of polythene bags.”

While polythene bags are facing hostility worldwide because of the threats they pose to the environment, trade in polythene bags has remained big business.

“It is cheap and reliable form of packaging,” said Mr Ssekito. Ms Naome Karekaho, the public relations officer of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) said: “People do not attach value to the thin polythene bags because it is cheap.” And for this reason the polythene bags have continued to proliferate in the garbage bins.


It is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide of which billions end up as litter each year. Relevant Links East Africa Economy, Business and Finance Environment Sustainable Development Uganda

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Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #37-2007-September 14, 2006
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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