Handmade paper which is currently Pulp and Paper Technology started in 2005 with the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) being mandated to produce paper from banana fibre. For the last 14 years in operation, the project has tremendously achieved significant results through utilizing numerous agricultural fibres. Some of the fibres that have already been used to produce paper of acceptable quality include; banana fibre (stems), pineapple crowns, cotton rags, sisal, bagasse, papyrus, wheat straw, waste paper to mention but a few.
These fibres have been converted into high value-added commercial products especially Paper, packaging bags, folders, cards among others using affordable and appropriate technologies. This has been done through focused research and development of different products to help in training and developing of new enterprises in Uganda. The Technology is currently being commercialized through Incubation and Diversification in Waste processing. Three SMEs are actively involved in production of Packaging Paper and other related paper products.
The impetus for UIRI to scale-up its efforts on paper production technology transfer stems from a Presidential Directive to the Executive Director, Professor Charles Kwesiga to look into the prospects of spearheading the drive to develop affordable bio-degradable paper packaging materials. This directive was made prior to the budget speech of 14th June 2007 following the Government policy to ban the use of non-biodegradable colored low density polyethylene bags of 30 microns or less, commonly known as Kaveera.
Prior to this, TDC was actively engaged in an initiative to develop and implement a technology for the production of hand-made paper using natural fibres such as: banana stems; sisal; cotton linter; papyrus; bagasse; pineapple leaves; recycled paper; and cotton rugs.
This work has resulted in the fabrication of a commercially viable hand-made paper production prototype, comprising: pulping; calendaring; and pressing machines. The prototype production line has so far yielded acceptable quality paper and enriched the technical skills and know-how of the production process team. A variety of products have been produced in conjunction with this technology. These include: shopping bags; gift bags; envelopes; invitation cards; calendars; dairies; notebooks; file covers; and art paper.