Plastic recycling plants in Kampala are operating below capacity despite the tonnes of plastic waste in our environment.
According to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), polythene bags, locally referred to as kaveera of below 30 microns are the common plastic waste in the environment.
About 700 tons of kaveera are produced by domestic industries, while another 40,000 metric tons are imported annually.
Yet, kaveera is the least popular plastic waste in the recycling plants.
Ronald Angutoko, the Technical Manager at Plastic Recycling Industries, says that their recycling capacity is not fully exploited because they are limited by technology.
Plastic Recycling Industries would need a specialised machine called a Film Washing Line, to be able to clean and recycle the small transparent carrier kaveera.
Angutoko adds that the plant has a 10 tonne-per-day operation capacity, but it is only able to take in a maximum of 8 tonne a day.
He says that most of the kaveera is turned away, for being too dirty for the machines to clean.
Benon Bwette of Sky Net Plastics in Nalukolongo says that though the plant would take in over tonnes of recyclable waste a day, he receives about 3 tonnes a week.
//Cue in: iWe need a big quantity#
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Sky Net has established small stores in industrial areas such as Nalukolongo, Luzira and Ntinda, to collect the plastics directly from the factories before they become dirty.
For Angella Akello, collecting plastics in Ntinda industrial area has become a goldmine.
She bends over a heap of waste paper, metal and plastic in the hot one o'clock sun, picking out and sorting through kaveera, to stash the high density (HD) ones in a half full bag.
Akello knows that the small kaveera will not be bought, so she ignores it. She says that though not all that she collects is bought, she still sells about 50 kilos a day.
//Cue in: iI can collect#
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The recyclers have now started a move to trade recyclable waste amongst themselves, to be able to absorb most of what is collected.
Bwette says that Sky Net, which specialises in recycling polythene, sells the hard plastics such as mineral water bottles and jerry cans, to other factories.