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Uganda takes tentative steps to recycle plastic waste

A picture taken on June 2, 2018 in Kampala, Uganda, shows a woman cleaning plastic bags to be sold off to a factory that recycles them into home plastic utensils   -  
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In Uganda, plastic pollution is a growing problem. 

Despite repeated plastic bans since 2009, there are no signs the use of this material is decreasing.

According to the Ugandan environmental authorities, over half of all plastic waste ends up in open land, waterways, lakes or parks.

The founder of this plastic recycling company said that Uganda needs to recycle more.

“The problem is really too big that even the recycling rate in Uganda is only 1%. There are no solutions that can solve plastic, and yet we have a lot of companies that produce plastic, but we have few companies that recycle plastic or give plastic a second life”, said Shamim Naluyima, founder of Edu-Plastics.

Naluyima started her company to remove plastic waste from the environment.

Her workers wash, dry and iron plastic bags before they're sewn into school bags. The school bags' labels read: "By owning me, you have helped in upcycling 15 plastic bags."

“...so after that, we then we bring it to our first production centre, where we fuse the plastic to come up with a sustainable material like this one, so this is a material that we later cut and then come up with the bags, which bags later, such as bags like this. So this is our school bag. It's waterproof, it’s durable, it’s sustainable, and it is locally handmade”, added Shamim Naluyima.

Besides bags, the company also manufactures learning materials, such as letters, numbers, rulers and other resources for schools in rural Uganda.

“When they go back to their homes, they say 'no, mommy, daddy, let us not throw everywhere these plastic things, because they are really good. Look at the bag I am having.' It is so nice to the extent that they are going to spread the message to their parents, not to litter everywhere with plastic", said Kyaffe Junior School teacher, Florence Namukasa.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) plastic waste is set to almost treble by 2060 with about half ending up in landfill and under a fifth recycled.

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