By: Marie Anne Dushimimana
The Government of Rwanda warned industries and other business operators that soon it will start to enforce the law banning single-use plastics on the Rwandan market.
The law against single-use plastics is in place since two years ago, however, some of these products are still imported, as most of its staff didn’t know they are not allowed.
Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment said the enforcement of the law and punishments would have started with this February, but they choose to inform first, rather than punish.
“Some think people do not use environmentally-friendly packaging because they are a little bit expensive compared to the plastics, ” she said.
“The provisions of the law require industries manufacturing single-use plastics to close their activities. They should even amend their business models to environmentally-friendly packaging materials, she added.
Collette Ruhamya, The Director-General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority said some industries decided to invest in producing alternative products but businesses refused to shift.
“Let us leave old habits. The world we live in today needs us to change our lifestyle. Otherwise, we will see our soil deteriorate and water spoiled, then how should we live?” she said.
She emphasized on alternative packaging materials that may be used several times.
“For instance, no one drinks Fanta and throw away a bottle, they keep them to be used again. If one of these packaging industries start that initiative, it should be a good initiative,” she said.
Plastics cause various problems to human health, including allergies, liver problems, nerves, and gastrointestinal problems among others.
Bisphenol contained into plastics may cause problems in reproductive health, especially for men. It is linked to infertility and other health problems, studies confirmed.
Eduard Banyonyi, the Chair of Disaster Risk Reduction Network of African Journalists said Plastic bags play a big role in environmental pollution and it is the major challenge to the drainage systems.
“They are not degradable. It is better to move to biodegradable materials than using plastics. The cost of setting biodegradable plant is much cheaper than the cost of importing some of these plastics. Furthermore, you are importing these plastics and you don’t have where to put them after use, it creates a double tragedy,” he said.
“We have a big basketry industry in Africa. Women are weaving handbags, which are better for the environment, at the same time contributing to the country’s economy. We can look at it as another alternative,” he said.