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.
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.
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.
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.
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.