Polymers waste can be managed, research study reveals

Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), MUBS held a dissemination workshop discussing the topic “Management of polymers waste in slum areas in Kampala, a randomised control experiment.”

Polymers waste can be managed, research study reveals

By John Kusolo

Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), MUBS held a dissemination workshop discussing the topic “Management of polymers waste in slum areas in Kampala, a randomised control experiment.” Political and technical leaders from all divisions in Kampala attended the function that was held at MUBS ADB Theatre 2.

Dr. Susan Watundu, Head and Senior Lecturer, Department of Management Science, Makerere University Business School is the Principal Investigator of the research while Prof. Will Kaberuka, Ms. Alice Bayiyana, Dr. Abbey Mutumba all from MUBS also contributed to the research.

Dr. Watundu says that if we fail to dispose of waste properly, agricultural productivity will be affected leading to food insecurity. She added 50% is disposed of in landfills while 96% of households have polymers around their compounds. 89% is generated by the same households and only 28% separate polymers. “There is need for an environmentally friendly approach towards poor waste management to avoid the fertility of our soils,” she added.

Dr. Watundu added that they will develop an enzyme that is expected to have the following outcomes; perfect control of polymer structures; creation of polymers with a new structure; a clean, selective process without by-product formation and a low loading process with energy saving.

Meanwhile, Salim Uhuru, Kampala Central Division Mayor advised Ugandans to be patriotic in order to overcome Polymers. “Make sure you dispose of plastics in the right place. The master plan of government is to stop the use of Buveera, that is why all my technical team from Kampala Central Division are available here,” Uhuru said. He called upon KCCA to effectively enforce the laws in order to reduce on waste.

Prof.Waswa Balunywa while officially opening the workshop, reiterated the need to dispose of the waste in an environmentally friendly manner. He added that waste can be turned into a business hence a money-making venture and helps decrease on the unemployment challenge.

Prof. Balunywa thanked the government and Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for availing funds to successfully undertake the research and is looking forward to more funding.

The objectives of the workshop included the following:

a) to determine the extent of polymers waste disposal management by households in slum areas in Kampala.
b) to develop the polymers waste decomposing enzyme from bacteria.
c)to test and evaluate the effectiveness of replicating the proposed enzyme.

A sustainable plastics and polymer industry also includes the sustainable management of the waste generated from the industry. Management of waste includes collecting the waste, recovery of value from the waste, disposing of the waste, as well as reducing the generation of the waste. Management of waste requires the input of resources, time, labour, and skill, either during the process of manufacturing products or the waste generated at the end of the usage life of the product.

The leaders present at the workshop called upon all stakeholders including religious, and Cultural leaders to help change the population’s mindset about degrading the environment and safe waste management.

While giving his closing remarks, Prof. Musa B. Moya (Ph.D), a Computing, Information Communication Technology and statistics Associate Professor at Makerere University Business School, called upon all Ugandans to guard the environment jealously to avert challenges like landslides, soil erosion to mention but a few.

The polymer industry is a subfield of material science that encompasses not only the basics of physics and chemistry but also grabs a whole lot of engineering to be manufactured as an end product. It is a leading manufacturer of a wide range of premium extrusion and compression-molded rubber components for most of the noted automotive giants. Not only does it constitute a segregated sector altogether but also acts as a prime component in the petrochemical industry.

The future is certainly a never-ending field, finding scope in health care, clothing, housing, construction, furniture, electronics etc. The polymer market is segregated based on application, region, type of process and type of polymer. Rapid industrialisation, demographic dividend, altering lifestyle, escalated per capita income and upsurged consumption of polymer products is propelling the market. Its dominant product is polyethylene, followed by polyvinyl chloride and polypropylene. The major factor aiding its vastly increased production is the financial conditions and favourable macroeconomic conditions in Uganda.