The private sector, particularly businesses in the manufacturing sub-sector, should adopt sustainable packaging ways that will consequently reduce plastic pollution in Rwanda.
According to Environment Minister, Dr Vincent Biruta, there’s need for companies, mainly those whose products contribute a significant number of plastic pollutants to take steps toward reducing these wastes or else build plastic collection facilities in order to keep the environment safe.
Biruta made the remarks during the event to mark World Environment Day, which at the country level was celebrated at Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC)-Kigali in Kicukiro, Tuesday.
“By building an alliance of government institutions, the private sector, civil society and the general public, we can grow the understanding of the dangers of plastic and fast-track efforts to beat pollution.
“Institutions and companies such as Bralirwa, Inyange and COOPED, are already taking steps to reduce plastic waste and have established a plastic bottle collection scheme. Efforts such as these should be commended and supported,” Biruta said.
Bralirwa is a local brewer, Inyange is a food and beverages manufacturing firm, while COOPED is a garbage collection and recycling cooperative based in Kigali.
The minister was of the view that once some companies let go the production of single-use plastic items such as straws, cups, plates, and cutlery, this will go a long way in reducing the unwanted plastic wastes in Rwanda.
“The Ministry of Environment is now in the process of revising the law on plastics to ban single-use plastics that have readily available alternatives. Such items include plastic straws, cups, plates, and cutlery. For the time being, there is no plan to ban PET bottles but as alternatives to these bottles come onto the market, the option of ending their use will be considered.
“While we don’t need a ban for us to reduce our dependence on them in our daily lives, we do need everyone to play their part. It’s simply a matter of changing our habits and choosing sustainable alternatives that won’t cost the earth. Together, we can beat plastic pollution and protect our health, and the health of generations to come.” Biruta added.
As part of commitment to develop a sustainable PET recycling system, Bralirwa also launched a collection system together with COOPED – a waste collection and transportation services company – to increase PET collection points around Rwanda which will later be shredded for further purpose.
Marcel Oosterveld, the Financial Director at Bralirwa, admitted that it is the private sector’s responsibility not to degrade the environment but rather keep it safe for future clientele.
"Bralirwa is committed to play our role to keep the thousand hills of Rwanda clean and green." Oosterveld said.
For more than two decades, Rwanda has prioritised environmental protection and conservation. This focus on sustainable development and ensuring a healthy environment for all people living in, and visiting, Rwanda has had a significant return on investment.
One of the major green initiatives was the banning of plastic bags and specific types of packaging in 2008. This revolutionary move was done because of the understandable threat that they posed to health and environment.
Similarly, in the lead up to World Environment Day, a number of initiatives were organised in support of the objective to beat plastic pollution.
The Ministry of Environment and its affiliated agencies, such as Rwanda Environment Management Authority, announced that they would no longer admit sing-use plastic bottles in their office and instantly switched to water dispensers.