UNBS executive director David Livingstone Ebiru. PHOTO/COURTESY

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) have announced a crackdown against importation, manufacture, distribution and use of plastic carrier bags commonly known as kaveera.

This comes after Cabinet in July reinstated the ban on manufacturing, use, and importation of polythene bags.

According to UNBS executive director, Mr David Livingstone Ebiru, there is an existing ban on manufacture and importation of kaveera below 30 microns but many manufacturers have continued to abuse this.

He also said the standard further stipulates that the bags shall be free from defects such as gels, streaks, pinholes, and particles of foreign matter, indispersed raw materials, cuts and tears that would impair the performance of the bags.

The colour and level of opacity of the bags shall be as agreed to between the purchaser and the supplier and the bags shall be capable of being opened readily by hand.

Mr Ebiru said the inspections shall target manufacturers, importers and distributors, while enforcement action, including prosecution in courts of law, shall be taken for entities found to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Act and the Standard.

He was speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Kampala.

Mr Ebiru said UNBS has over 41 certified manufacturers of plastic carrier bags and flat bags with 67 valid permits of various products and has seized approximately 133 tonnes of non-conforming plastic carrier and flat bags through several enforcement operations inspections.

The National Environment Act, 2019, under section 76 (1) prohibits the importation, export, local manufacture, use or re-use of categories of plastic carrier bags or plastic products made of polymers of polyethene or polypropylene below thirty (30) microns.

Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is a government organization mandated to develop, promote and enforce standards in protection of public health, safety, and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products.

This is the second time that government bans the use and importation of polythene bags. In July 2009, the government with the approval of parliament imposed a total ban on plastic bags “for the conveyance of goods and liquid in order to protect our environment”.