HISTORICAL AND SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND.
Polythenes are frequently used in Uganda as a packing materials and they are locally called “Kaveera”. Polythenes were introduced in Uganda as a subsitute to the paper bags which were initially used for packing especially the light commondities. As a result polythene wastes, this has indeed been a hazard to the Ugandan environment but first, the description of this substance.
Polythene bags can best be defined as a non-biodegradable substance that is used by the majority of Ugandans as packing materials. Despite the fact that they are cheap as well as light, they are hazardous in the following ways;
- The fact that they are non biodegradable makes them hard to dispose and as a result, they can act as breeding places for many of the disease germs which, sooner than later cause an epidemic in the surrounding people.
- The fact that they are very light also makes it very easy for them to be blown from place to place and as a result, the unending littering of the environment.
- Some of these bags have been used by a number of ignorant, or careless people as mobile toilets considering their light nature. These mobile toilets are then carelessly thrown away to unknown areas which also makes work of the concerned parties rather hard.
- These polythene bags have over time been proven to be environmentally unfriendly considering the time taken for their decomposition. As a result of this time spun they can cause further problems like blocking water penetration into the soil which in turn affects food growth and development.
As an alternative of having to suffer the unending plight of environmental down fall, we would suggest that an alternative means of packaging materials should be encouraged and as such the use of polythene bags should be banned.
Polythenes are therefore the most outstanding of all
the waste in the homes of most Ugandans and are hard to dispose off. They
affect the environment in a number of ways with some very adverse effects.
CAUSES OF POOR POLYTHENE WASTE DIPOSAL IN UGANDA
Polythenes in Uganda are cheap and therefore the majority of the Ugandans can afford them. They are therefore widely used as packing bags in the country with the biggest percentage of the users in the urban areas.
In addition the polythene bags are easy to carry and therefore most of the people in Uganda find them very convinient to carry and portable. As a result they are widely used in the country.
Most of the people in the country also find the “buveeras” easy to dipose off after use. They are very light and someone can easily throw away the polythene after use. This has increased on the abudance of the polythene waste. In addition they can also be recycled after use ie they can be used again for another purpose.
Ignorance of the people who don't care about the effects of proper waste disposal and who may not know about the effects of improper waste disposal. They therefore dump the polythene bags carelessly.
Lack of enough dumping areas e.g Dustbins and the rubbish pits. This simply means that a person has bought a commonity in a "kaveera" and wants to use that commondity immediately, there should be enough dust bins in the city where they deposit the "buveeras". However lack of enough dumping site sis mainly due to lack of adquate capital.
Negligence of some of the people who have the I don’t
care attitude towards proper waste management.
These maybe literate but with no concern for the environment atall. They therefore deposit the polythene bags anywhere after use.
Lack of strict laws as regards the dumping of polythene
bags from the government. The people who are seen throwing away the polythene
bags in town are not punished and this has led to the continuous improper
disposal of the waste.
EFFECTS OF POOR POLYTHENE WASTE DISPOSAL ON THE ENVIRONMENT.
Loss of soil fertility. Due to the careless disposal
of the "buveeras" in the country, the areas where they have been deposited
in large quantities have lost soil fertility.This is mainly because the
they cannot rot and decompose and therefore cannot lead to the formation
of good soils. The polythene bags have also got an acidic combination
which with time disturbs the chemical formulas of the soils.
The poor disposal of the polythene bags can also lead to the spread of diseases. This is because the polythene bags can easily block the the sewerage and water pies which can eventually lead to the spread of the Diseases e.g the break out of cholera in Kampala in 1997.They cannot also cause water logging since the water cannot percolate through them and this can be a good breeding ground for some of the vectors which spread diseases.
Unneccessary littering of the polythene bags on the roadsides destroys the would be beautiful scenary. If the buveera are carelessly thrown allover the place, they make the environment very untidy and unpleasant to look at. This is the case in some parts of the city.
Poor soil earation and drainage. This is because the
polythene bags cannot allw the water to pass through them so easily. As
a result the soil is not well earatedand this is because they are
non-biodegradable and water cannot easily percolate through them.
Death of domestic animals specially the cows and the
goats after eating the polythene bags. This clearly show that waste if
mismanaged can be very dangerous to the environment.
SOLUTIONS TO POOR POLYTHENE WASTE
Emphasis should be put on the use of paper bags. This is because the paperbags are also light and they can easily decompose. They should therefore act as the subsitute for the polythene bags .
Recycling and reusing of the "buveera should be emphasised. The local people should be told to use the Polythene bags as many times as possible before the polythene bag can be taken for recycling . The industries should also be encouraged to recycle the polythene bags.
Education of the masses on the proper disposal of the polythene waste. The masses should be sensitized about the dangers of the improper disposal of the polythene bags.
Burningof the plythene bags using the incenerators at very high temperatures. This should mainly be done for the case of the polythene bags which were deposited so many years ago and have not decomposed up to now.
Laws and legislations should be put in place regarding the improper poythene waste disposal. The people who are seenthrowing away the polythene bags careless while moving should be penalised and this should be done by lobbying the parliament to pass these laws. In some cases the use of polythene bags should be banned especially where they have been mismanaged.
Local Action projects should be emphasised by the students whereby the students move to the neighbouring communities to have them cleaned up and also carry out the seminars to sensitisethe masses about the dangers of improper waste disposal.
FIVE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS.
Diseases today in the rural areas of Africa are greatly a result of breeding of the various kinds of disease carrying organisms in large numbers.This has been made very posible due to the large numbers of non-biodegradable polythene wastes that are widely spread around the city streets. These waste materials act as a breeding place for the various disease carriers like the deadly female anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria, they also rare germs like the cholera germ which has lead to the death of millions of people.
The government in its own way has failed to control the problem of poor polythene waste disposal through its failure to enhance strict rules that can help reduce the problem.The officials of the various government organs have failed to provide sufficient supervision of the damping of the wastes as a result, polythene waste are continually poorly damped and this is hazardous to the community and the people living around it.
INCREASED SOIL INFERTILITY
The soil has also not been spared by the continued scarge of the poor polythene waste disposal. Lots of land is continually lost to this cause in that; when the polythene bags enter into the soil, they block further passage of mineral salts and oxygen to the soil. These, if properly annalised are the main components that make up the soil fertility.When blocked the soil is unable to yield crops properly this can cause several problems to the peasant farmer and consumers.
BLOCKAGE OF WATER SYSTEMS
Water is another sector that is highly important to man but has been disturbed by these polythene waste materials and as an after effect, man is affected in various ways that can not be fully listed.Water systems like springs, ponds, rivers e.t.c are blocked during continued damping of these polythene materials along the shore, the water flow is affected and may be stopped causing floods, disease habitation and unpleasant scenery.
The scenery of the various places where wastes are disposed can only best be defined as inproper for human settlement and as such , when wastes are poorly disposed, we end up having the beautiful natural environment losing its beauty this may scare away many tourists and visitors inn an area