Government has refuted claims that it had lifted the ban on producing or allowing polythene material in the country as alleged by some media reports. The Minister of State for Mines and Natural Resources, Vincent Karega refuted the claims.
“The ban is still strong and maintained,” Minister Karega told Business Times. “We have successful stories in this ban and therefore we are considering any lifting,” he explained
The story that was published in the Business Week, a weekly newspaper claimed that Rwanda had encouraged new investments in the production of polythene material that are to be used in exceptional cases in the country. The claims were false according to the Minster.
The news paper quotes the premier Bernard Makuza as saying that any investor interested in entering the Rwandan market is supposed to manufacture polythene bags of 30 microns and above.
Polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tonne in the world. Its primary use is within packaging (notably the plastic shopping bag).
It is a thermoplastic polymer consisting of long chains of the monomer ethylene
The wide use of polythene makes it an important environmental issue.
Though it can be recycled, most of the commercial polythene ends up in landfills and its not considered biodegradable, as it takes several centuries until it is efficiently degraded.
Business Week claimed that Rwanda’s law had allowed manufacturing of polythene for packing toilet paper and all varieties of napkins, sanitary pads, baby diapers and wet wipes.
It also published that, polythene bags for packing of candy sweets, candles and soap, wrapping of water, and cosmetic products and cling film for value addition of tea and coffee.
Also allowed is the manufacturing of polythene paper for wrapping mattresses while in the warehouse, packing of maize flour, polythene for plants nurturing in nurseries.
Rwanda is one of the countries focused on curbing the harmful consequences of polythene, especially the dangers posed to the environment. Discarded polythene bags choke the sewers and most often find their way into the guts of cattle.
According to officials, the presence of chemicals in polythene bags affect soil fertility and hence plant yields, while burning of polythene bags releases poisonous gases and harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
Environment officials have since insisted on the use of paper bags instead of polythene bags. This was seen as the best, affordable option. The bill banning them was passed in 2006.