Ugandan turns banana stalks into paper bags

Thirty-five-year-old entrepreneur, Sharon Ninsiima hopes to make bananas even more valuable, by turning their stalks into paper bags. At her workshop in the capital, Kampala, Sharon feeds banana stalks into a machine that extracts the fibre, which will be boiled and mixed with waste paper then converted into pulp and finally smoothed out into sheets of paper.

The practise confirms the work of researchers who say banana fibre is ideal for making paper.

“I wanted to fight polythene bags, you know polythene bags take long to rot. My paper bags don’t even take a week to rot,”

Plastic bags, locally known as ‘Kaveeras’ are popular despite a ban nine years ago.

Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) says the private sector can play a major role to help promote the use of alternatives like banana fibre bags.

“We have plantain, we have banana plants everywhere, so the extraction of the fibre from the banana plantain and improving the paper material, the simple light paper material, to something stronger is something that we desire, and we have seen corporate companies in their corporate social responsibility taking upon these initiatives. Most of these are desiring to have enough markets for their branded products to be put in this eco-friendly alternatives to the plastic polythene bags,” Bob Nuwagira, communication officer at NEMA said.

Bella Wines, a drinks company in Kampala is using Sharon’s bags as part of their marketing and branding strategy.

The bags cost 50 U.S. cents each.


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