Local cooperative making paper bags to conserve the environment

A local cooperative society, known by its French acronym as Copeespe, in Rwamagana is encouraging residents to use paper bags and reduce the use of polythene bags.

A local cooperative society, known by its French acronym as Copeespe, in Rwamagana is encouraging residents to use paper bags and reduce the use of polythene bags.

Eric Joyeux Kanyangira, the coopretive’s technician and advisor told The New Times on Tuesday, that their cooperative uses labour intensive technology to keep production costs low.

“Since we produce envelopes manually and use local materials, we sell them at affordable prices to people,” she said.

Copeespe, started as an association by seven youths in the area before being turned into a cooperative and recruiting eight other elderly members.

Currently, the original members are recognised as the workers of the cooperative while the rest of the members are mere share holders. The cooperative was registered in 2007.

Kanyangira explained that they supply their products to Rwamagana and Kayonza districts at about 35Rwf per envelope at wholesale price.


Their production capacity is 355 envelopes per week, with different outlets including markets vendors and shops. 

Kanyangira said they face some challenges including inadequate raw materials- which affect their production capacity.

Presently, they use empty cement bags which are also not easy to get and they fail to meet the demand. According to Kanyangira, they also need a more specious place to work from.

Parliament this year approved a bill prohibiting the manufacturing, importation, use and sale of polythene bags in the country.

The decision was taken in order to strengthen the law on protection, conservation and management of the environment.
The law defines polythene as the synthetic plastic material made up of numerous simple molecules called ethene (monomer) with chemical formula CH2=CH2 normally used for packaging.

Rwanda is one of the countries committed to 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 stomachs of cattle.

The presence of chemicals in polythene bags affects soil fertility and hence affects plant yields, while burning of polythene bags releases poisonous gases and harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.

Using paper bags instead of polythene bags is seen by many as a viable alternative.

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