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Environmental enthusiasts root for circular economy

The country suffers from indiscriminate disposal and littering of plastic waste

The country suffers from indiscriminate disposal and littering of plastic waste

Environmental enthusiasts at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Mitigation Uganda (CEPCOM) have urged policymakers, local governments, and the National Environment Management Authority to intensify the fight against indiscriminate disposal and littering of plastic waste for a circular economy.

The clarion call was made at Seguku primary school, where learners were empowered through creative and innovative skilling to recover, reuse, and recycle plastic waste as a pathway to achieving a plastic waste-free ecosystem.

It is estimated that over 600 tonnes of plastic are consumed every day in Uganda, and at least 51% of this is left uncollected, ending up on streets, clogging up sewage and drainage channels, causing floods, polluting water sources and aquatic life, as well as arable land for agriculture.

Consequently, implementing strategies to collect, reuse, and recycle plastic waste is an inevitable and urgent action required to respond to the inevitable side effects of plastic waste on the environment and, in due course, on our lives.

Under the theme of harnessing the collective responsibility of Seguku primary school in Promoting a Plastic Waste-Free Environment through Creative and Innovative Skilling of Pupils in Plastic Waste Recovery, Reuse, and Recycle, learners were taught to make flower vessels, litter bins, and kitchen vegetable gardens out of plastic bottles.

Stephen Kuteesa, the executive director of CEPCOM Uganda, said we have taught them how to recycle and reuse plastics. They are going to grow through the structures on how to manage it. This is why we are lobbying them, calling upon them to use political will to integrate practical approaches into the already existing curriculums, such that the students not only look at plastic as a waste but as an opportunity to generate income out of it.

“We started with the primary section, and we are moving on to secondary and tertiary because the students have the collective will to learn, and we are talking about plastic waste that is in their homes. They are very good ambassadors because they are going to replicate the information, expand it, and multiply its effects. It will be easier than in communities where people are taken up by activities, looking out for survival,” he said.

The organisation reached 300 pupils from primary four to seven; however, they aim at reaching 25 schools in a quarter and 100 schools in a year and hence reaching 3000 learners in Entebbe municipality and other areas in the country.

“We have always employed a community participatory approach to collectively embrace a circular chain of domestic waste management. The initiative aims to harness communities’ contribution towards a clean, plastic-waste-free environment for improved livelihoods with significant positive effects on income generation by promoting the circular economy priorities of recover, reuse, and recycle,” he said.

He noted that the initiative attracts more community aware- ness, a mindset change on waste management, participation, and involvement, and ensures that increased volumes of plastic waste are removed from the environment and recycled for sustainability.

The organisation aims to increase pupils’ motivation to pioneer the campaign on promoting a plastic waste-free environment for sustainability and a sustainable pool of student mentors and advocates of a plastic waste-free ecosystem.

Annet Nantongo, a student at Seguku primary school, said they have learned how to make kitchen vegetable gardens, baskets where she could keep her clothes, and bread bins.

“I am going to teach my siblings and my mother because I know she doesn’t know anything about that. She will be so proud of what we have learned—Cepcom, school management, and myself—because it’s not easy. I will make sure that I make them for use at home. My work will act as an example in the community and the world as well,” she said.

geofreyserugo1992@gmail.com

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