House passes bill to ban single-use plastics

The Minister for Environment Dr Vincent Biruta (right) addresses Members of Parliament as REMA Deputy Director General Faustin Munyazikwiye looks on yesterday. The Lower House yesterday passed a draft law prohibiting the manufacture, importation, use and sale of single-use plastic items in Rwanda. Craish Bahizi.

Parliament has passed a draft law prohibiting the manufacture, importation, use and sale of single-use plastic items in Rwanda.

Single-use plastics are plastics that are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled, which pollutes the environment at a very fast rate.

Among others, they include plastic bags, cups, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, and most food packaging materials.

A plenary session attended by 56 Members of Parliament yesterday passed the bill that has five chapters and 20 articles explaining key issues about the proposed ban, as well as how it will be implemented.

A collection of single plastic bottles collected during the launch the campaign (Sam Ngendahimana)

“The manufacturing, use, importation or sale of polythene bags and single-use plastic items are prohibited,” reads article 3 of the draft law.

The legislation says that a person who manufactures polythene bags and single-use plastic items is liable to closure of the activity, dispossession of such items and to an administrative fine of Rwf10 million.

A person who imports polythene bags and single-use plastic items is liable to dispossession of those polythene bags and such items and to an administrative fine equivalent 10 times of the value of those polythene bags and single use plastic items. 

In addition, imported consumer goods packaged in polythene bags or single-use plastic items are subject to an environmental levy in accordance with relevant laws, according to the draft law.

A person who intends to manufacture, use, and import or sell polyethene bags and single-use plastic items or pack goods in polythene bags and single-use plastic items for exceptional reasons writes to apply for an exceptional authorisation issued by the competent authority.

It says that the institutions responsible for inspection and control of manufacturing, importation, use or sale of polythene bags or single-use plastic items according to the law are: Rwanda National Police; institution in charge of customs; Rwanda Investigation Bureau; Rwanda Environment Management Authority; institution in charge of the standards; Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority; administrative decentralised entities.

Among other things, a wholesaler of polythene bags and single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf700,000 and dispossession of the polythene bags and such items.

On the other hand, a retailer of polythene bags and single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf300,000 and dispossession of the polythene bags and such items.

It also subjects people who pile or dispose of polythene waste and other single-use plastic items on unauthorised public or private place to an administrative fine of Rwf50,000, as well as an order to remove such waste and repair damages caused. In case such a person is an authorised user of polythene bags or single-use plastic items or to treat waste, they are liable to an administrative fine of Rwf5 million and their authorisation suspended or withdrawn.

Single-use plastic items which are already ordered or in stock are exempted from the application of this draft law in a period of three months from its commencement, it says.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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