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Exploring PET plastic waste flows in Greater Kampala

A baseline study conducted under the GKMA PET Plastic Recycling Partnership

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic pollution is on the rise in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA), Uganda’s most populated area. GKMA has experienced rapid urbanisation and population growth, as well as fast economic development, over the last 35 years. As one consequence of this development, PET is used in increasing quantities, largely in packaging of food and beverages.

This generates a significant amount of plastic waste and pollution in Greater Kampala and environs. Poor consumer behaviour such as littering and the creation of illegal dumpsites further accelerate pollution. This results not only in increasing amounts of PET plastic in the environment, but has also negative impacts like degradation of landscapes and blockage of urban canals and rivers. Increased risk of flooding and the emergence of waterborne diseases in stagnant waters are ultimate consequences.

plastic waste in channel in Kampla
PET plastic waste accumulating in a drainage channel in GKMA
Copyright: NatuReS Uganda

Although PET plastic pollution in GKMA being a very visible problem, it has previously never been quantified. The exact amount of PET plastic waste generated, collected, recycled, disposed in landfills, and leaked into the environment in GKMA has so far not been examined. However, such information is crucial for better planning and management of PET plastic waste.

To close this knowledge gap, the GKMA PET plastic waste recycling partnership conducted a baseline study on PET plastic waste flows in GKMA. The study identifies key stakeholders in the PET recycling value chain and compiles the relevant policies and legislations that affect plastic waste management in GKMA. Furthermore, it highlights the main challenges and opportunities for the management of PET waste in GKMA. The findings helped the partners to make informed decisions on priority intervention areas under the partnership. They also suggested practical mechanisms to improve management of this waste stream across the PET plastics recycling value chain.

Key findings on the PET waste flow

  • 8.6 million pieces of pre-form PET bottles are imported into Uganda per day, of which 40% (3.4 million pieces) are commercialized in GKMA every day. This equals an amount of 62.9 tons/day.
  • 57% of the PET plastic waste this generates is collected.
  • Out of this, 17% ends up at gazetted disposal site(s),
  • 35% is transported to recovery facilities, where it is processed for exportation, while
  • 5% is leaked during collection and transportation services.
  • 43% of all PET waste is NOT collected. This corresponds to 9.948 tons of uncollected plastic per year. This faction may end up in drains, land and water bodies.
PET waste flows baseline study in Kampala, Uganda
PET waste flows in GKMA visualized using a Sankey diagram

The informal sector plays a crucial role in recovering PET materials for recycling. In fact, informal waste collectors recover all the PET waste, of which 57% is delivered to formal recyclers, who in turn process it as preparation for exportation.

There is only limited capacity to make new products from PET waste either within Uganda or neighbouring countries in East Africa. Therefore, once the formal recyclers process the PET waste into small flakes, they are packaged and exported to various countries, among which the US, India and Indonesia, for further processing.

PET bottles collected for recycling in Kampala, Uganda
PET bottles are collected and bundled for further recylcling. Yet, there is only limited capacity to make new products from PET waste in Uganda.
Copyright: NatuReS Uganda

Every month, up to 660 tons of flakes PET waste, worth USD 232.654 (USD 2.8 million per year), are exported from GKMA to the international market. This number underlines the importance of the recycling sector for the economy in GKMA and the potential it could unfold if further processing and up-cycling was to be established in the country

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Managing industrial wastewater in Tanzania: Challenges and solutions

Industrialization is one of the key strategic objectives within the Tanzanian National Development Plan. However, with often water-intensive production expanding, the treatment of increasing amounts of wastewater poses a major challenge. This is especially the case in the country’s economic centre Dar es Salaam. Untreated discharge not only has a negative effect on the ecosystem and the health of communities using the water, but also on foreign investment.

Complexity of discharge permit process as obstacle to investment

Industries, especially those exporting to the US and Europe, increasingly adhere to strict compliance on international environmental standards. A significant challenge these industries face is the complexity of the process to obtain official permits for the disposal of wastewater. With multiple regulating agencies involved and industries requiring various types of permits, the result is a complex and lengthy process to safely dispose of wastewater.  

Wastewater treatment plant in Dar es Salaam
Tooku Garment LTD pre-treatment plant at the Benjamin William Mkapa Special Economic Zone, Dar es Salaam
Copyright: EPZA

NatuReS, in collaboration with stakeholders of the partnership including the Tanzania Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), aims at addressing this issue. First, by establishing and facilitating a continuous dialogue between regulators and the private sector. Additionally, by supporting the development and implementation of ‘Industrial Wastewater Management Guidelines’ for the EPZA. These represent an important step to formalize and standardize this process.

With a growing industrial sector, there is an increasing need for an integrated, predictable and modern permit management system.

Videos to visualize processes and regulators

The following video visualizes both the processes and the regulators involved in industrial wastewater management, showcasing the example of an imaginary factory in the Benjamin William Mkapa Special Economic Zone.

This animated video was produced by GIZ NatuReS in collaboration with the Tanzania Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DAWASA), National Environmental Management Council (NEMC), the Confederation of Tanzanian Industries (CTI) and Wami Ruvu Basin Water Board (WRBWB).

A second video includes testimonies from the regulators, explaining their roles and responsibilities in managing industrial wastewater. The Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) on behalf of the private sector highlights the persisting challenge to environmental compliance by industries and why it is important to have a coordinated approach in managing industrial wastewater.

This video was produced by GIZ NatuReS in collaboration with the Tanzania Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DAWASA), National Environmental Management Council (NEMC), the Confederation of Tanzanian Industries (CTI) and Wami Ruvu Basin Water Board (WRBWB).

Better WASH services in schools: Menstrual Hygiene Day and COVID-19

Handwashing demonstration by the District Commissioner of Lusaka
Copyright: NatuReS Zambia

Lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene services such as hand washing facilities can be an obstacle for girls to attend and participate in school. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, the need for hygiene and hand wash facilities in schools has been further enforced to prevent its spread.
To address this need, NatuReS Zambia, in collaboration with Lusaka Water Security Initiative, Lusaka City Council, the District Education Board, the Zambian Ministry of Health and Water Aid Zambia, officially handed over Jumbo Hand wash facilities to 58 schools under the Safe Back to School Campaign.

These Jumbo Wash stations allow many pupils to wash their hands at once, meeting the demand for handwashing facilities especially in overly populated schools in Lusaka’s most vulnerable communities. The stations contribute to a better provision with water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Water storage tanks awarded to schools with strong engagement on improved WASH facilities
Copyright: NatuReS Zambia

The handover event took place on the 27th of May at Kasamba Combined school in Matero, Lusaka, as part of the world menstrual hygiene day commemoration. On this day, hygiene in general and the access for girls and women particularly to safe and clean hygiene facilities, is in the global focus. During the hand-over, five schools evaluated as best performers on WASH in schools guidelines, were awarded certificates. Each of these schools received a 10000-litre capacity water tank, chlorine, cleaning agents and materials, hand washing soap, sanitisers and face masks.

By improving access to sanitation in schools, the hurdle for pupils, especially girls, to regularly participate in class, is lowered. Creating safe and clean learning environments hence plays an important role in Zambia’s development.

Author: Sonile Mutafya, NatuReS Advisor Zambia

Workshop on Extended Producer Responsibility- Join for Free!

Free virtual workshop on Extended Producer Responsibility
Copyright: Vanessa Tyaba

The NatuReS Zambia team and LuWSI, in collaboration with a team of specialists from BlackForest Solutions (BFS), Landbell AG and Cleanhub will be conducting a free online workshop on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The purpose of the workshop is to introduce the concept of EPR, using the EPR toolbox and the concept of offsetting certificates for plastic waste, which can be seen as the first step towards EPR.

The workshop will be held on the 17th of June from 10:00 – 12:30 CAT.

Interested? Then get in touch with the LuWSI Secretariat at or directly join the meeting on your computer or mobile app (Click here to join the meeting)