More investments in recycling of used up plastic materials will boost local industry and help reduce import-export gap that remains a major impediment to the country’s economy.
The Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Vincent Biruta, said the move would also mitigate environmental hazards posed by such materials such as broken plastic chairs, crates among others, if they are not properly disposed of.
Dr Biruta was, yesterday, touring a plastic recycling plant and another that manufactures packaging materials, both located in Kigali.
The minister’s tour aimed at assessing how local industries have responded toward the enforcement of the policy on the ban on polythene bags.
Dr Biruta called for a change in mindset for Rwandans saying most people automatically think that any locally made product is of poor quality, even without giving it a chance, hence entirely relying on exports, a phenomenon that hurts the economy.
“We have locally produced envelopes that have replaced the polythene bags but seven years after the ban, some people have refused to change,” Biruta said, also challenging manufacturers to be innovative.
The ban on polythene bags was effected in 2008.
Plastic recycling plants
Currently, there are five plastic recycling companies, with varying capacities. The minister toured Ecoplastic that is located in Mageragere Sector, Nyarugenge District, and for alternative packaging, he visited Bonus Enterprise Ltd located at Nyanza in Kicukiro District, which manufactures paper bags.
Wenceslas Habamungu, the manager of Ecoplastic, said they recycle plastic bags, drinking straws, water bottles, among others, adding that hundreds of people eke a living from collecting the material from dumping sites.
More than 50 tonnes of plastic bags are supplied to the factory per year, he said.
The factory, that employs 50 people, produces plastic tubes, tarpaulin, garbage collection bags, among others.
“From the collected wastes we sort those that are older from newer and other plastics that we cannot recycle are taken to Nduba Dumping Site. The water we use is also recycled to be reused at the plant,” Habamungu said.
However, he stated that there is still a challenge of consistent power outage.
Brian Ngarambe, the managing director for Bonus Industry, said they produce paper bags for flour packaging, paper shopping bags, wax-coated paper for packaging bread, among other products.