Let’s work together to manage plastic waste

What you need to know:

  • We must all be part of the solution to achieve positive change by building a more sustainable future for our planet

Last year, the National Research Repository of Uganda reported that imports and use of packaging and plastics in Uganda have increased six-fold within the last three years.

While this is a sign of a growing and diversified consumer economy, it has also accelerated the challenge for sustainable management and recycling of plastic waste.

Plastic has become an indispensable part of modern life, providing a hygienic, affordable, lightweight and convenient packaging material for food and beverage products.

But there it has come with pollution that threatens the sustainability of the freshwater systems and marine life.

Although demand for recycled plastic continues to grow - driven, in part, by a commitment from brand owners to incorporate recycled content into their products - overall Uganda’s recycling rate remains low, according to the National Environmental Management Authority.

Therefore, as one of the largest users of plastics, we have committed resources that we hope will be key in helping to eliminate this problem.

This is being done under the World Without Waste, which the Coca-Cola Company, of which we belong, launched in 2018 as a sustainable packaging initiative to help collect a bottle for every one we sell by 2030, make all our packaging 100 percent recyclable by 2025 and make 25 percent of our packaging reusable by 2030.

This is hinged on the belief that the industry led and managed extended producer responsibility initiative is a sustainable funding approach, which ensures that users of plastics take full responsibility for the choice of packaging they put out on the market by enabling the collection and recycling value chain.

Through this, we have encouraged and brought people together to collect and recycle plastic waste and also invested in helping people to understand what to recycle, how to recycle, and where to recycle.

Whereas we have not yet reached where we want to be, we are on our way to achieve our ambition of a 100 percent recycling rate.

As of last year, we had achieved an 85 percent collection rate, which was well above the industry average of 41 percent.

Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda, through our Plastics Recycling Industries plant in Nakawa, has also sought out other organizations to partner in the promotion of recycling and reduction of plastic waste. 

Therefore, as we support efforts to create a safer environment, we are also developing a circular economy for plastic waste and recycling, which has the potential to create more than 50 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators.

Thousands, especially youth and women, are already involved in the different stages of plastic recycling.

We feel proud of this contribution and call on every stakeholder to join us as we pursue sustainable ways of manufacturing, distributing and selling our products.

We must all be part of the solution to achieve positive change by building a more sustainable future for our planet.

The problem of plastic waste in Africa and in Uganda in particular, and its impact on water resources, requires concerted efforts from governments, corporates, civil society organisations and individuals.

Thus, by working together, we can create a more sustainable future for our water resources and the communities that depend on them.

Mr Melkamu Abebe is the  Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda general manager