Maganda’s plastics business gives environment a lifeline By Hope Mutesi

Maganda washing the plastic bags in a stream of water

Poor disposal of polythene bags in Uganda is still a big challenge although numerous initiatives and laws have been imposed to help solve the problem. However, the only solution we have to solve the poor disposal of polythene bags challenge is “us”, because the polythene cannot poorly dispose off themselves but it’s us that intensify the problem. People like Maganda John and his colleagues have posed a great example for us all as they collect this “waste” and make a living out of it yet in the long run they are helping preserve our environment.

John Maganda is not your ordinary youth. Ventures where others run away from is what he indulges in. Otherwise, how else would one explain how the 24-year-old would be comfortable collecting plastic waste, many of which is got from water channels and rubbish bins?

As Maganda engages in the economic activity that sees him walk home with some money at the end of the day, there is even a bigger contribution that he makes – relieving the environment of the toxic polythene bags, popularly known as kaveera.

In addition to the plastic bags, Maganda also collects scrap materials. For both the scrap and the polythene, bags, Maganda sells them to firms that recycle them.

For the plastic bags to degrade on their own, it would take some hundreds of years to do so. Moreover, when they enter soil, they limit the movement of water and soil nutrients, since they are impermeable, hence affecting the fertility of the soil and their ability to support plant growth.

“I started collecting polythene bags as a source of livelihood. However, I have now grown to understand that by collecting the kaveera I’m saving the environment of a polluter,” Maganda, who dropped out of school early in life, says.

Maganda’s parents did not have enough money for his school fees. As such, he had to drop out of school and begin engaging in activities that would bring financial returns to him.

From the proceeds he gets out of the kaveera and scrap business, Maganda is able to get a livelihood.

By Hope Mutesi

Community Journalist