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Ugandan Environmentalist Finds Novel Way to Reduce Plastic Waste

He collects discarded bags and bottles and upcycles them into new products, such as tables and fence poles. In the neighborhood of Nsambya, a landfill site is an ugly spot on the landscape. But it’s also a source for an emerging business. An environmental entrepreneur has setup a collection point near here, determined to turn discarded polythene bags and single-use bottles into something useful. Gerald Ndashimye is the founder of Eco Ways Uganda and has established collection points in various parts of his country, including Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono, as well as other major towns. And there’s plenty of plastic to gather, he says. “In Kampala alone, we have 350 metric tons of waste, solid waste that is produced by Kampala people and about 12 to 15 percent of that is plastics, and nearly much of it is not collected or recycled at all. So, it all ends up in landfills and open dumps like this one you are seeing around here,” he says. The Development Studies graduate began with a simple aim in mind: collect plastic litter and keep the environment clean. But his idea has grown from a one-man operation to a business that employs more than 100 people, including young mothers. He also pays private individuals who bring him plastic he can use.