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.
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.
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.
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.
Implementing this project are theNGO One-Earth-One-Ocean (OEOO), which specialises in marine litter prevention and removal, and theUganda 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.
120tons 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Policy, legal and institutional frameworks for climate-resilient development
Climate-resilient communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure
Capacity and partnerships for climate-resilient development
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.
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.
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.
Wetlands serve as the ‘kidneys’ of the earth. They store and purify water, protect areas from flooding and are a vital habitat for fish and other wildlife. Once a wetland is degraded, it can’t maintain its ecological functions which poses risks to human health, biodiversity, and environmental security.
Partners under the Commercial Flower Farms Integrated Catchment Management Partnership have joined forces to combat the degradation of wetlands around Greater Kampala. On 28th of September 2022, Nature Uganda, a civil society organisation working for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources, officially launched their activities under the partnership in Mpigi District. The focus lies on the conservation of the Semagimbi wetland.
Conserving Semagimbi wetland together
Mpigi District belongs to the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area and hosts the Semagimbi wetland. This wetland has been heavily degraded by encroachment, land use change, a growing population and pollution from nearby industries.
To support the conservation of the wetland, Nature Uganda is implementing a variety of activities under the partnership in Mpigi District. These include:
Development of a wetland management plan for Semagimbi wetland
Demarcation and environmental restoration of 10 km of the wetland
Establishment of wetland management committees
Identification and promotion of alternative livelihood options
Sensitization campaigns on sustainable use of natural resources
Engagement of schools around the wetland on solid waste management
Launch Event organized by Nature Uganda
During the launch event, stakeholders from the Ministry of Water & Environment (Mr. Benard Arinaitwe, Ass. Commissioner Wetlands), Mpigi Local Government (Ms. Maria Lubega, Deputy Resident District Commissioner; Mr. Emmanuel Ssempala, Deputy Chief Admission Officer; Ms. Aisha Nakirija, Vice-Chairperson; Mr. Tony Mwidyeki, District Natural Resource Officer), Religious and Cultural Leaders, students and a representative of the private sector (Mr. Victor Embati, Quality Assurance Manager Fiduga/ Dummen Orange) came together at Mpigi District Local Government Headquarters to be introduced to the activities led by Nature Uganda and to give room for discussions. Finally, participants visited Semagimbi wetland to showcase issues on ground.
The Executive Director of Nature Uganda, Achilles Byaruhanga, highlighted: “We have in plan many interventions, which include working with schools around the Semagimbi wetland. By sensitizing them on proper waste management ways, we believe these children can help us pass this information to their parents.”
With the project officially launched, the stage is now set for the implementation of activities in Mpigi district. Jointly, partners will support the conservation of the wetland to ensure it can serve its ecological function for generations to come.