Local recycling firms have expressed interest in expanding into recycling single-use plastic items, positioning their businesses to leverage a government move to prohibit the use of manufacturing, importation, use and sale of those items.
Single-use plastic materials include, plastic bottles, drinking straws, plates and cups, cutlery, take-away containers, and shrink wraps for secondary packaging of goods.
Léon Nduwayezu, the owner of Agroplast Ltd, which recycles plastic waste into different materials, told The New Times that the company could soon start transforming single-use plastic items into pavers for construction purpose.
Agroplast Ltd recycles plastic waste into different materials
Since 2015, he said, the company has invested over Rwf410 millions in recycling plastic waste into trash bags, net bags for potato and horticulture, sheeting for construction and green houses as well as sealed sacks.
The company works with over 80 plastic waste collectors. It processes 500 kilogrammes of plastic waste every day with a plan to increase to one tonne.
“We use different types of plastic waste, including little quantity of single-use plastic bottles. Following the ban on single-use plastic items, we have immediately conducted a study on machines we will use in recycling them into pavers. We might start in August if the plan goes well,” he said.
Their feasibility study, he disclosed, revealed the availability of crashing machine, extruding machine and is looking into machines that mixes melted bottles and cement.
Agroplast Ltd based in Kicukiro district recycles plastic waste into different materials
“We are ready to receive all single-use plastic bottles which used to be exported to Uganda. We will mix them with other solid plastics such as basins and jerrycans to make pavers,” he said.
Nduwayezu said that his company has already talked to clients interested in buying such pavers.
A group of two young innovators from Kepler, a non-profit higher education programme that operates a university campus in Kigali, has also developed prototype of paver made from plastics.
Agroplast Ltd based in Kicukiro district, the friendly environment company that recycles plastic waste into different materials pledges to turn simgle use plastics into pavers
Rosette Umohoza, the representative of My Green Home project, told The New Times that after producing the prototype, they are working with engineers to design a machine for production.
Increased call for recycling
Speaking to The New Times, James Biseruka, the Managing Director of Inyange Industries, said: “We think that the best option to manage single-use plastic bottles waste is recycling. We produce at least three million bottles of water and juice per month. We have been discussing with local firms on a partnership to recycle the bottles,” he said.
He explained that if they adopt glass bottles to package their products, it could require more huge investment as well as dealing with other related market challenges.
“Because the machines that put the lid on plastic bottles are different from the ones used in glass bottles, using glass bottles could also trigger a rise in prices for our products,” he said.
Biseruka added that failure to recycle single-use plastics could also weaken competitiveness of locally produced beverages as some companies could continue to import beverages packaged in plastic bottles at lower prices.
“The option for recycling could benefit us, benefit recycling companies, create more jobs and helps save the environment,” he stressed.
Remy Duhuze, the Director of Environmental Regulations and Pollution Control at Rwanda Environment management Authority (REMA), said another company, Ruliba Clays Ltd, is exploring the possibility of turning single-use plastic bottles into fuel to burn bricks.
He, however, said that a deal with CIMERWA to melt the bottles as fuel in their process has met challenges.
The Ministry of Environment has pinned its hopes on local firms that produce non-plastic products and companies that recycle plastics to smoothly phase out the use of single-use plastic materials.
Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, the Director General of REMA, told The New Times that government is considering both options — embracing glass bottles and recycling plastic bottles.
“It is not possible to totally eliminate use of plastics as there are circumstances where they will still be used. What we want is to reduce the quantity through different ways and recycle others,” she said.
“We are working with the Trade and Industry ministry to help attract more investors to invest in alternatives or tell the existing factories to expand their business into such alternatives,” she said.
She said that some single-use plastic items, such as straws, don’t even need alternatives because it is possible to drink without them.
The draft law at a glance
• The draft law introduces the payment of an environmental levy to importers of consumer goods packaged in single use plastics items.
• A person who manufactures single use plastic items is liable to closure of the activity, dispossession of those items and payment of an administrative fine of Rwf10 million.
• A person who imports single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine equivalent to ten times of the value of those single use plastic items.
• A wholesaler of single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf700,000 and dispossession of those items.
• Single-use plastic items which are already ordered or are in stock are exempted from the application of this Law in a period of three months from the time it comes into force.
• Manufacturing, use, importation or sale of single-use plastic items is prohibited. However, manufacturing, use, importation or sale of home compostable single use plastic items or woven polypropylene is allowed subject to prior approval by the competent authority.