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September 20, 2020

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Rwanda continues to seek plastic packaging alternatives

Rwanda is a country committed to the protection of the environment through the ban of using single use plastic items which are unfriendly to human health.

The list include single-use plastic packaging materials for food and drinks, plastic straws, plastic spoons and forks, plastic cups, plastic bottles for packaging water, juice and milk products among others.

According to Rwanda Environment Management Authority, such items have contributed to the flooding and low agricultural productivity as result of plastics preventing rain water penetration in the soil and being a source of pollution when burnt.

Rwanda adopted the law N° 17/2019 of 10/08/2019 prohibiting the manufacture, use, importation and sale of the single use of plastic materials, in 2019.

However, the country struggles to find the replacement of some like plastic bottles mostly common in water and juice packaging, Uwera Martine, the Environmental Audit and Monitoring Officer within REMA, has said during the inspection on the application of the law, held in Kigali, on September, 10, 2020.

“Any single-use plastic material is prohibited but there is still no replacement for some which still have a one-year period to be removed from the market. Bottles for water, juices, yogurt cups are among ones we haven’t found replacements but some businessmen have even started to think of some of the packaging made in cartons that packs milk and keeps it healthy. We are looking at how it can be done and distributed across the markets.” She said.

During the inspection, REMA found people who still have the habit of wrapping some stuffs such as bread, mandazi and cakes in plastic bags while there are bags which do not harm the environment.

The reason behind the behavior is related to the mindset of some bakers who say that once bread are wrapped in paper bags, they dry easily, according to Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, working in Tetero Cell, Muhima Sector, Nyarugenge District.

“You wrap mandazi, cakes and bread in paper bag but immediately after two hours, you find them dried and you lose the clientele.”

Uwera is against such a mindset. “The message we want to convey to people is that there are packaging materials that protect the environment and the products packaged from any damage.”She said.

This policy of cutting the use of single use plastic materials and picking them up anywhere in the country is one of the reasons why Kigali, as the Capital of Rwanda, remains a model in Africa as a Clean City.

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