EDITORIAL: Move to ban single-use plastics a golden opportunity for big thinkers

It is an undisputed fact that single-use plastics are harmful to the environment and governments around the world are required to mobilise their people to ditch the materials and embrace alternatives, even where it makes one uncomfortable.

Government’s bid to ban single-use plastic materials has gained momentum, with the draft law on the matter now under consideration in the parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment.

The Minister for Environment, on Monday, appeared before the committee and allayed fears that the country could still not have alternatives to single-use plastics when the legislation comes into force.

As it turned out the Government bets on a several local firms involved in manufacturing non-plastic materials and recycling of plastics to help find alternatives to single-use plastic materials, such as straws, disposable cups and plates, coffee stirrers, among others.

It is an undisputed fact that single-use plastics are harmful to the environment and governments around the world are required to mobilise their people to ditch the materials and embrace alternatives, even where it makes one uncomfortable.

Statistics indicate that some 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year, accounting for 50 per cent of marine litter.  It is indeed estimated that over a million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by ingesting plastics every year.

In addition, most floods, especially in urban areas, are caused by discarded plastic bags clogging water channels and heaps of plastic litter preventing water from seeping into the ground.

Fortunately, Rwanda is no stranger to bold green growth initiatives, having successfully banned plastic bags more than 10 years ago – at a time when it looked more difficult to find alternatives than is the case with single-use plastics today.

That the country succeeded in banning plastic bags is proof that the efforts to get rid of single-use plastic materials are not far-fetched.

The Government’s move has received support from Parliament and what remains is to fine-tune a few details to ensure smooth implementation.

The development presents an opportunity to the business community and entrepreneurs to think big and come up with viable, affordable and environmentally friendly alternatives even before the law comes into force.

editorial@newtimesrwanda.com

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