June 5 is marked by the United Nations as World Environment Day, a day set aside since 1974 to promote “worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.” This year’s theme was “beat plastic pollution.” According to the UN secretary, the idea was to discourage and hopefully in the long run end the use of single-use plastic items. Many of the plastics, bottles, paper bags etc, make their way to oceans and other water bodies, arable land and drainage thus affecting the animals living both in water and on land equally, the quality of soil and neighborhoods.
Given that at least 80 per cent of Ugandans depend on agriculture whether directly or indirectly, the impact and degradation of the soil as a result of polythene accumulation as well as their impeding smooth water filtration was rapidly increasing. It is for this reason that the Government of Uganda, with the approval of parliament, first banned the importation, manufacture and use of polythene bags of gauges below 30 microns, popularly known as “kavera”. In addition, massive plastic waste obstruction of water drainage channels, dangerous chemical production when “kavera” is used to wrap or cover food stuff (particularly “Matooke” a local staple) as well as poor plastic disposal methods that release cancerous gasses into the air eventually affecting human lives contributed to the ban.
While the first move by the government ban plastic did not pick effectively, on the 15th of April 2015, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) in a bid to execute its mandate once again banned the use, sell, manufacture and importation of the polythene bags.
As a company that is strongly committed to conserving the environment, Kampala Serena Hotel consequently devised means to phase out the remaining polythene bags that were at the time used to carry clean guest laundry. Re-usable or “Bag-For-Life” laundry bags were introduced as alternative packaging and current statistics indicate that 3 or 4 reusable bags have replaced over 100 plastic bags used in a week.
With a continued war on plastic, Kampala Serena Hotel have recently introduced a “Buy Back” initiative so as to re-use plastic hangers. The plastic hangers buy back policy started on 1st May 2018 following the switch from plastic to non-woven laundry bags in response to the ban on plastics. So far 48 hangers have been bought back with majority of our customers promising to bring back hangers now that there is an incentive.
This was an initiative by the laundry department at the hotel after conducting a survey with their customers. “We asked our customers how they dispose off hangers and majority said they throw them in garbage. So we came up with the incentive to encourage them to bring back hangers. The plastic hanger buy back policy will not only reduce plastic pollution but will save us Ugx 524,000 ($145) per month in procurement of hangers, (we use 100 hangers per week, each is Ugx 1,310). Customers have highly commended us for preserving the environment ever since we switched to reusable bags which they say reflect five star standard , they look smarter and classy than plastic ones)”, says Grace Namuhange, Laundry Manager at the Hotel.
With our small but poignant efforts, we hope that the Kampala Serena Hotel can contribute towards making Uganda an environmentally friendly country.