Rwandan chemists proposed waste sorting as the first step towards sustainable solid waste management.
They made this case on Tuesday during the 3rd chemistry workshop held in Kigali under the theme “Environmental problems and research of solutions” organized by the University of Rwanda chemistry department comprising staff and students through the Rwanda Chemistry Students' Association.
Waste sorting is whereby there is a specific dustbin for every type of waste, for instance, a dustbin for plastic, metals, organic, glass and wood individually.
“This is important because waste should be considered as raw material rather than useless,” said Christian Sekomo, a senior lecturer at the University of Rwanda in the chemistry department, while presenting about solid waste management during the workshop.
Christian Sekomo, presenting about Solid waste management in Rwanda/ Dan Nsengiyumva
He further noted that mixed wastes are currently dumped at Nduba landfill and “it would be a headache for investors interested in waste recycling or recovery to sort them out.”
This would also provide data for the private sector’s business plan as well as be a step towards a healthy environment.
In addition, Dr. Sekomo continued, it would also help in knowing the hazardous wastes, for they require special treatment and proper handling because of their toxicity.
Currently, there is only recyclable plastics recycling being done at Nduba landfill to produce new ones that are put back on the market for usage. This means that there is still a huge gap to fill in this field.
Waste Water treatment advancements
Participants during the 3rd chemistry workshop/ Dan Nsengiyumva
During this workshop, water pollution was also discussed where untreated wastewater from industries and households are major contributors to this pollution.
However, some advancements are being made in this area whereas the government has announced plans to construct semi-centralized wastewater treatment plants.
“Located at Nyarugenge, Kicukiro and Gasabo districts, these treatment plants will be operating independently and as soon as treated wastewater reaches the standard of rejection, it will be released into Nyabugogo river for Nyarugenge and Gasabo plants as well as River Nyabarongo for Kicukiro plant,”said Sekomo, who is also a board member of FONERWA, the national green fund.
Prof. Theoneste Muhizi, the head of the chemistry department at the University of Rwanda revealed that there a plans to introduce a new undergraduate course on Industrial Chemistry .
“This will help in industrial development and contribute to the economic growth of the country by training needed staff in industrial as well as a chemical engineering field,” Muhizi said.
Currently, the department offers Applied Chemistry with Biorganic and Environmental chemistry options.
Rwanda Chemistry Students' Association member showcasing some of the products made/ Dan Nsengiyumva
The participation of students was applauded by the faculty staff saying “they are the future chemists.”
They were also given a presentation of different products they made within their association which are used in people’s daily life such as essential oils used to make perfumes, mayonnaise, ketchup, soap naming but a few.