Solid wastes have become one of the most challenging environmental problems in most urban areas in Uganda. In Kampala, for example, research shows that 1,300 tonnes of solid waste is generated by city dwellers daily yet if recycled; the wastes can turn into useful products.

During the annual evaluation meeting for sustainability schools that was held in Buliisa District Western Uganda in December, NAPE exhibited how paper waste, which is among the solid wastes, can be turned into briquettes.

Allan Kalangi, the Manager for Sustainability School Program at National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), believes charcoal briquettes can be an alternative source of energy substituting wood fuel (charcoal and firewood); which is one of the most forms of energy used in Uganda leading to deforestation. He adds that they can help in reducing wastes and saves money.

“The paper briquettes can reduce of wastes which end up in the landfills, saves cutting of trees and saves money,” says Kalangi.

During the exhibition, Felix Stips a volunteer working with NAPE demonstrated how paper briquettes are made. He explained that waste paper is sorted, shredded into small pieces, put in the bucket and covered with water for two days. Then the soaked paper waste is pressed with hands or wooden shredder machine to squeeze water from it. He said it is then dried on direct sunlight.

According to Stips, water can be mixed with ash, cassava flour or clay to improve stickiness.

Peruth Atukwatse, the Project Assistant at NAPE, who has an experience in cooking with with paper briquettes, explains that they can efficiently burn for hours just like charcoal.

“I used the paper briquettes to prepare milk for my baby, water for bathing and even drinking and it still remained so it is good especially for women who suffer long distances looking for firewood,” Atukwatse noted.

The sustainability school members were excited to learn about the new alternative source of energy though some noted that it is good urban dwellers that can get paper waste in plenty.

Sylivia Kemigisa, the chairperson of Kaiso Women’s Group says paper briquettes should be another energy alternative to train women in Hoima as they struggle to look for energy alternatives to solve the problem of firewood scarcity.

She notes that in addition to training women in making charcoal briquettes out of kitchen wastes they will take on paper briquettes to solve the problem of firewood scarcity since they were limited to two days a week to access Kabwoya wildlife reserve for firewood.

“One would think paper waste cannot be that productive, and at household we have wastes, since we have school going children, we can use expired past papers and books for our children to solve the issue of firewood scarcity,” she noted.