Uganda: Plastic Bottles and Bags for Construction

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Akatukunda Basemath
February 17, 2014

An American volunteer has helped to construct a school library in Uganda out of used plastic bottles and Plastic shopping bags popularly known as buvera – all picked from dust bins.

The building, the first of its kind in the country, is found at Mwizi Secondary School in Mbarara district, southwestern Uganda.

 Part of the school library that was constructed using plastic bottles stuffed with plastic bags

Part of the school library that was constructed using plastic bottles stuffed with plastic bags

The low cost technology is helping the region to reuse plastic bottles and bags in a move to avoid plastic menace.

Kimberlaly Koeven, an American Peace Corp volunteers worked with the school leaders to construct the library.

She describes this as an effective solution for reusing the plastic wastes.

Kimberlaly Koeven, in blue, stands next to the school's headmaster as they explain the importance of constructing using plastic bottles and bags to the community members
Kimberlaly Koeven, in blue, stands next to the school’s headmaster as they explain the importance of constructing using plastic bottles and bags to the community members

Polythene bags are non-biodegradable and take between 15 and 1,000 years to breakdown in the environment.

Students and residents living close to this school were shocked. They told our reporter that this initiative will help them clean their environment and at the same time construct buildings cheaply.

“These plastic materials are a time bomb for Uganda because they affect the economy by undermining agricultural productivity through soil degradation,” they lamented.

Speaking during this occasion, Kenneth Tumusiime- the Director Ply Waste, a local NGO noted that this move could increase soil productivity and reduce toxic gases produced as after burning plastic bottles and bags.

 Students of Mwizi Secondary School in Mbarara district stuff plastic bags into the plastic bottles meant to be used in construction of their school's library

Students of Mwizi Secondary School in Mbarara district stuff plastic bags into the plastic bottles meant to be used in construction of their school’s library

Uganda has some of the richest soil in Africa, but in some urban centers and villages it is laced with plastic. Polythene bags when discarded into the soil degrade it, they block waste water drainage systems, they kill farm animals and wild animals that eat it.

In June 2007 the government of Uganda slapped a ban on the importation, use and production of polythene bags of 30 microns and below but this ban has since failed to work.

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