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Uganda’s Beverage Industry Takes the Lead in Enabling PET Plastic Recycling

In a ground-breaking initiative, leading players in Uganda’s beverages industry have joined forces to establish a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO). This is in a joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer  (polyethylene phthalate) PET recycling. Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda (CCBU), Mukwano Industries, Harris International, Uganda Breweries Limited, and Crown Beverages (Pepsi) signed a letter of intent, demonstrating their commitment to creating a sustainable and circular economy for plastic waste. This collaborative effort was facilitated by the Greater Kampala PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. The partnership’s goal is to foster collaboration among stakeholders to improve the recycling value chain, shift behaviours and attitudes towards recycling, and develop recycling policies.

Plastic pollution lake Victoria
Plastic pollution represents a growing risk for the environment in Uganda, like this example of a plastic bottle at the shores of Lake Victoria shows. Copyright: GIZ

Responsibilities of the Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO)

The PRO will be responsible for recruiting recyclers and subsidising recycling through contracts for all PET collected and recycled in the country; developing new high-value end-uses for reusable plastics (rPET); training and empowering collectors; and promoting PET collection and recycling through consumer awareness. Continuous consumer and public education and awareness activities are required to promote environmental responsibility and encourage PET recycling.

partners signing recycling agreement
Members signing the foundation of the Producer Responsibility Organisation. Copyright: GIZ

Transitioning to a Circular Economy

The establishment of a PRO in Uganda marks a significant step towards achieving a circular economy for PET plastic waste. By introducing a non-profit, industry-driven organization, the member firms are demonstrating their dedication to taking responsibility for post-consumer PET plastic after its useful life. The member firms will pay a monthly levy to the PRO which will use the money to support the collection and recycling of plastic waste. This creates a monetary value for post-consumer PET plastic waste which incentivises collection and recycling.

founding of plastic recycling organisation in Uganda
Founding members of Uganda’s first Producer Responsibility Organisation: Coca Cola Beverages Uganda, Mukwano Industries, Crown Beverages and Hariss. Copyright: Coca Cola Beverages Uganda

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

One of the key principles underlying this initiative is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). EPR encourages companies that manufacture, import, or sell PET products and packaging to bear financial and physical responsibility for their products throughout their lifecycle. By incorporating the environmental costs associated with PET products into market costs, the burden of managing used packaging is shifted from the government to private industry. EPR was signed into legislation in Uganda with the National Environment Act, 2019 and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is currently developing the National Environment (Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging and related single-use- items) Regulations. These set a collaborative framework for the PRO to operationalize EPR and set annual recycling targets for the PRO.

The PRO’s goal is to collect from the environment and recycle all the post-consumer PET bottles the companies produce. Copyright: Coca Cola Beverages Uganda

Environmental and Economic Benefits of the PRO

Supporting the establishment of a circular economy for plastic waste brings both environmental and economic benefits. Recycling has the potential to create over 50 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators. By investing in sustainable solutions, the beverage industry partners involved in the PRO are not only contributing to a cleaner environment but also driving economic growth and job creation.

A sustainable future

Through the establishment of the PRO, leading companies are taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their PET products, thereby minimizing their impact on the environment. By embracing a circular economy approach and promoting recycling, the partners in this initiative are pioneering sustainable practices and setting an example for the entire industry.

The Kampala Lake Victoria Clean-up & Circular Economy Project

Providing hope for the future of Lake Victoria’s ecosystem and economic potential

Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, is of tremendous importance to the ecosystem and the population in Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, providing water for both domestic and industrial use.

Lake Victoria
Copyright: GIZ/Jesper Anhede
Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest freshwater lake.

However, plastic waste pollution has become a significant problem in the region. This pollution affects the lake’s biodiversity, water quality, and the availability of fish. Promoting recycling and waste reduction, as well as implementing effective waste management systems, are necessary measures to address plastic waste pollution in Lake Victoria.

Plastic pollution lake Victoria
Copyright: GIZ
Lake Victoria and its surroundings are increasingly polluted, particularly with plastic waste.

Cleaning up Lake Victoria

To address the urgent need to sustain the ecosystem and economic benefits of Lake Victoria, the Greater Kampala Plastic Recycling Partnership, accompanied by the GIZ-Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS), is supporting the Kampala Lake Victoria Clean-up & Circular Economy (KVCC) Project. The overall objective of the partnership is to improve the sustainable management of plastic waste in Greater Kampala through developing an inclusive green recycling sector.

The KVCC project contributes to both removing litter from two heavily polluted bays, namely Murchison and Nakiwogo Bays in Lake Victoria, as well as tributaries such as the Nakivubo channel in the urban area of Kampala.

Copyright: Uganda Junior Rangers
The Kampala Lake Victoria Clean-up & Circular Economy (KVCC) Project in action.

Implementing this project are the NGO One-Earth-One-Ocean (OEOO), which specialises in marine litter prevention and removal, and the Uganda Junior Rangers (UJR), a local environmental conservation non-profit organization that promotes a culture of environmental and heritage stewardship through volunteer and educational opportunities.

By removing waste from the lake and its tributaries, the project aims to prevent further damage to the lake ecosystem and ensure its economic sustainability. The KVCC project also seeks to promote plastic waste recycling and encourage the development of efficient local resource recycle systems that enables the re-introduction of plastic waste into the economy, adding value to waste and providing a source of income to the local communities around the lake.

120 tons of waste collected from Lake Victoria

As a result of the lake clean-ups under the KVCC Project, 120 tons of waste have been collected from in and around the lake by local volunteers. The NGOs have also constructed a catamaran, equipped with nets to collect the floating plastic waste on the lake, under the project.

Copyright: Uganda Junior Rangers
Before (above) and after a cleanup activity in and along a Lake Victoria water Channel.

Strengthening and development of efficient circular economy systems

Aside from collecting plastic waste, one of the project priorities is to support and strengthen the development of local recycling in the lake’s surrounding communities. Sorting zones known as base camps were established as part of the project to enable the sorting, cleaning, and transportation of collected plastic waste for further processing. To aid in the development of an efficient recycling system, the project ensured that the local community partner received two TukTuks for waste transportation, a catamaran for waste collection on the water, and a compactor with a matching generator for waste compression. The goal is to increase their capacity to earn from the plastic recycling value chain while also demonstrating responsibility for the management of the lake’s natural resources.

Recycling Uganda
Copyright: UJR
Collected plastic waste loaded on Tuks Tuks to be transported for further processing.

Creating awareness for sustainability among the local population

Additionally, to pursue a long-term mindset change that allows for the control of plastic pollution and the societal adoption of the circular economy concept, it is critical to raise awareness for recycling and enable the appreciation of waste as a potential source of income for local communities. Communities, including fishermen, have gained knowledge about plastic waste management as a result of the project.

Fishermen Community
Copyright: UJR
A fishermen community group after training on fishing gear pollution.

Furthermore, environmental education campaigns have been carried out in schools under the project. Partners have established an educational program to ensure that pupils learn more about waste disposal and, as a result, become good environmental stewards. The project recognizes that to stimulate long-lasting change, special attention must be paid to developing young people’s mindsets.

School environmental campaign
Copyright: UJR
Pupils during an education session on waste handling.

One Earth One Ocean and the Uganda Junior Rangers have demonstrated which significant impact could be achieved if cleaning up the lake was prioritized and pilot activities under the KVCC project were upscaled. NatuReS aims to support impactful interventions that create long-term ecosystem and economic resilience through supporting partnerships for natural resource management, increasing knowledge, and institutionalizing good practices such as those demonstrated by cleaning up Lake Victoria.

Rainwater Harvesting Facilities for improved urban resilience to flooding in Greater Kampala

Kampala city, Uganda’s capital, is experiencing recurring flash floods. One reason for this is the rapid urbanization which has led to an increase in impervious surfaces. This in turn results in accelerated runoff water, which the existing drainage system can no longer cope with. The often devastating flash floods represent a constant threat to human life and the city’s economy.

C/ Actogether
Flooding in Nalukolongo, part of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.

A Partnership to Promote Joint Solutions: Blue-Green Infrastructure

To increase flood resilience, stakeholders from the public sector, private companies and civil society formed the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership in 2021. Partners include the Ministry of Water and Environment, Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda Manufacturers Association, Britannia Industries Ltd., and the local NGO ACTogether.

One of the  partnership’s goals is to promote investments in blue-green infrastructure solutions in two areas of Kampala, namely Nalukolongo and Kinawataka. Blue-green infrastructure means utilising the benefits of urban green spaces and naturalised water-flows. Examples include green roofs, retention ponds, bioswales, rain gardens and rainwater harvesting systems.

c/ GIZ
Partners of the GKIFR partnership during a partnership retreat.

Rainwater harvesting as impactful measure against floods

One of the blue-green interventions identified under the partnership is scaling up rainwater harvesting, to reduce pressure on the existing stormwater drainage infrastructure in Kampala. Rainwater harvesting entails capturing runoff from the roof of a building or from open spaces and channelling it into storage structures. These structures are above or below ground for reuse or slow release. The harvested water can be used for cleaning, washing, irrigation, or as process water.

Partners have identified seven public sites where rainwater harvesting is piloted. This should motivate other stakeholders to follow suit and achieve an impactful large-scale investments. Selected sites include: Kitebi Primary School, Lubiri Secondary School, Kitebi Secondary School, Nakawa Market, Usafi Market, Nateete Market, and Kampala City Abattoir.

c/ GIZ
Two of the eight constructed rainwater harvesting tanks at Kitebi Secondary School

Launching rainwater harvesting facilities

With most of the construction completed, partners, spearheaded by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), officially commissioned the facilities on 18th of April 2023 at Kitebi Secondary School in Lubaga Division, Nalukolongo. The event was presided by the Executive Director of KCCA, Mrs. Dorothy Kisaka, and the Team Leader of the European Union, Mr. Lennart Deridder. Several invited guests and dignitaries attended, including the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Resident City Commissioner for Kampala, the Mayor for Lubaga Division, as well as the KCCA Directors for Public Health and Education services. Next to partnership members of the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership, board of governors for Kitebi Secondary school, management and staff of Kitebi secondary and primary schools, as well as local community leaders participated. Finally, the GIZ Head of Global Programs, Dr. Elke Siehl, assisted the ceremony.

Flood resilience is essential part of a prosperous city

During the commissioning ceremony, KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka emphasized that flood resilience is one of the key elements of an inclusive, resilient, and well-planned city that provides economic opportunities for all. She also stated that rainwater harvesting should be implemented at all large public buildings, such as schools, shopping malls, and markets.

At Kitebi Secondary School, eight rainwater harvesting tanks were constructed with a capacity of 10.000 litres each. Through this support, the water needs of over 4.000 students will be covered and the risk of flooding in the area will be reduced. Furthermore, through landscaping, the uneven, rocky compound next to the school was turned into an even football pitch  to enhance stormwater infiltration. The other six  identified sites received four to five rainwater harvesting tanks with a capacity of 10.000 litres each. At Kitebi Primary School, additional re-greening and landscaping interventions reduce the risk of flooding.

c/ GIZ
Group photo of invited guests and dignitaries, as well as pupils of Kitebi Secondary School, during the rainwater harvesting commissioning ceremony.

Through collaborative action under the partnership, blue-green infrastructure solutions, such as rainwater harvesting facilities, have been emphasized as an essential step towards a more sustainable and flood resilient future for the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.

Promoting Stewardship and Sustainable Business Practises at the Uganda Water and Environment Week 2023 

Each year in March, the Republic of Uganda – organized by the Ministry of Water and Environment – hosts the Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK). The weeklong event seeks to contribute to the attainment of Uganda’s sustainable socio-economic transformation and to achieve the Ugandan National Development Plan and Vision 2040.

Since its inception in 2018, UWEWK has evolved to become the flagship program for advocacy, information sharing and learning within the country’s water and environment spectrum. The event format provides an opportunity to engage and exchange information on water and environmental management topics, as well as sustainable development in general and across various economic sectors. Organisers have positioned the event to promote a multi-sectoral and integrated approach that links all sectors to water and the environment. It is accompanied by various side events, exhibitions, applied training, facilitated knowledge exchange, dialogue, and learning. It usually reaches over 1900 participants.

Water and Environment for Climate-Resilient Development

This year, the conference focused on the theme “Water and environment for climate-resilient development” with the four sub-themes of:

  1. Policy, legal and institutional frameworks for climate-resilient development
  2. Climate-resilient communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure
  3. Capacity and partnerships for climate-resilient development
  4. Innovative financing mechanism

The Natural Resources Stewardship programme (NatuReS), together with two other GIZ programmes active in the country’s water and environment sector, supported the event. The programmes had a public display of their work and their contribution to Uganda’s water and environment through a weeklong exhibition of programme information material and outputs such as the Uganda Green Growth Report. Furthermore, three partnerships contributed to the conference with side events. The following sections provide an overview of the organized activities.

1. Promoting natural resources stewardship

To promote natural resources stewardship as a successful approach, participants at the NatuReS exhibition received information about stewardship partnerships. They were also introduced to the free, self-paced e-learning course on the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework (NRAF). NRAF is the methodology to set up stewardship partnerships. The course targets public, private sector, or civil society stakeholders, who want to actively learn about steps and tools to participate in natural resources stewardship partnerships. By taking the course, participants learn how to facilitate the different stages of a multi-stakeholder stewardship partnership to address environmental risks collectively.

NatuReS colleague Simon Akena sharing information about natural resources stewardship partnerships with a visitor during the exhibition at Uganda Water and Environment Week 2023.

2. Promotion of Rainwater Harvesting

The Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership participated in UWEWK with two activities promoting rainwater harvesting. An increase in the adoption and uptake of rainwater harvesting technologies by public and private institutions and households contributes to building flood resilience in Kampala and thus supports Uganda’s climate-resilient development agenda.  

Exhibition of existing rainwater harvesting technologies by Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) members

Three companies among Uganda’s top manufacturers of rainwater harvesting products (GENTEX, CREST TANK, and STEEL & TUBE Industries Ltd.) under UMA exhibited some of their innovative rainwater harvesting technologies and products, like rainwater storage tanks, gutters, and pipes. They also shared insights about costs and operational information.

Radio talk shows on scaling up of rainwater harvesting in Greater Kampala

To enhance awareness about the importance of rainwater during UWEWK, the Flood Resilience Partnership organized radio talk shows on two radio stations. Experts from Uganda Rainwater Alliance and Uganda Rainwater Harvesting Association discussed issues and challenges constraining rainwater harvesting in Kampala, opportunities for promoting and scaling up rainwater harvesting in Kampala, policy recommendations, and financing models for increasing the uptake of rainwater harvesting technology in the country. One of the talk shows was held in the local language Luganda to increase outreach.

3. Sustainable Business Practises in the Flower Sector

The Commercial Flower Farms Integrated Catchment Management Partnership supported the Uganda Flower Exporters Association on a moderated dialogue on  “Sustainable Business Practises in the Flower Sector.” With panelists from the Ministry of Water and Environment, the private sector (Uganda Flower Export Association, ED Flower Farm), and the civil society organization Nature Uganda, the dialogue served as a platform for the different sectors to exchange on challenges, foster understanding and strengthen their collaboration. The partnership goal is to improve compliance with national regulations and the sustainable use of natural resources in the flower industry while benefiting local communities.

4. Protecting Gulu City’s main water source, the Oyitino dam

Gulu City in Northern Uganda has rapidly changed climate conditions over the past years. This led, among other things, to the drying up of the Oyitino Valley dam and the associated streams, which serve as a primary water source for the city. To tackle this challenge and secure the quality and quantity of water from the Oyitino dam, partners from the public sector, private sector, and civil society have joined forces under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership.
Since its initiation in 2022, significant efforts have been made, particularly regarding water source protection. During UWEWK 2023, partners handed over-restored intake sites of the Oyitino dam to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation.

Alternative livelihood options to restore the Oyitino catchment

Additionally, the partnership promotes more sustainable, alternative livelihood options among communities, such as apiary and horticulture, to incentivize the restoration of the Oyitino micro-catchment. These were launched by the Gulu Resident City Commissioner (RCC)and the Ministry of Water and Environment during side events of the UWEWK. Furthermore, partners established a ‘Community Environment Conservation Fund’ to ensure the sustainability of these sustainable income opportunities. Community members previously engaged in environmentally harming practices, like sand mining or bricklaying, can access this revolving fund. The fund allows them to access an initial source of capital to venture into alternative livelihood options that will enable natural regeneration to increase water quantity and quality and protect biodiversity within and along the wetland system. The funds catalyze the construction of a strong social support system for communities to promote catchment-based water resources management in Otiyino.

c/ GIZ
Handover of restored intake point to NWSC.
Launch of alternative livelihood options such as beekeeping.

Through the various events and exhibitions, the partnerships and NatuReS promoted stewardship and collective action as a solution for inclusive and sustainable management of natural resources. The significance of water partnerships and multi-sectoral collaboration has been highlighted as a sub-theme at UWEWK. We look forward to seeing the stewardship approach grow in Uganda and learning more about newly-formed partnerships at next year’s UWEWK.