Industries save billions through clean production technologies

Rwanda’s efforts to ensure green and sustainable industrial development are beginning to bear fruits with many industries recording high savings after embracing resource efficiency and cleaner production technologies.
Kitabi tea factory Oct 2017. (Courtesy photos)
Kitabi tea factory Oct 2017. (Courtesy photos)

Rwanda’s efforts to ensure green and sustainable industrial development are beginning to bear fruits with many industries recording high savings after embracing resource efficiency and cleaner production technologies.

Under an initiative unveiled by government in 2013 to promote sustainable industrial development and environment-friendly production practices, the industries have been able to cut costs and save over Rwf2.5 billion since the inception of the programme, according to Steven Niyonzima, the coordinator of Rwanda Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Centre.

“By using clean energy and energy efficient production, such industries have reduced energy consumption by about 7,528,914 megajoules so far, while total reduction in carbon dioxide equals to 2,188.67 tonnes every year. The industries have already saved $2,845,653 (about Rwf2.5 billion) monetary investments and returns in cleaner production technologies,” he said.

Energy produced from pyrethrum waste has enabled Horizon SOPYRWA to save Rwf900,000 daily.

The figures show that industries saved about Rwf1 billion between 2013 and 2014, and cut about 1,290 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. The programme hosted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry is working with over 70 industries, which Niyonzima said are in the process of addressing the industrial pollution challenges and low productivity by embracing clean production practices.

Rwf562 million facilitation

Niyonzima said $657,451 (about Rwf562 million) from Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project phase two (LVEMP II) supported by Rwanda Environment Management Authority was used to facilitate industries to adopt clean technologies to ensure energy efficiency, introduce renewable energy use and help reduce greenhouse gases, as well as ensuring that water is conserved and used efficiently through waste water recycling.

Kinazi switched from diesel to energy from cassava peels. 

The initiative promotes management and reduction in solid waste. Government targets to increase the contribution of the industrial sector to 26 per cent of GDP.

Industrialists speak out

Emile Nsanzabaganwa, the director of Kinazi Cassava Plant, said the firm has already registered big savings in operation costs since they embraced the initiative at the beginning of 2016.

“Previously, we used to spend Rwf125 to dry and process a kilogramme worth of cassava flour. However, we are spending almost zero since we stopped using diesel and embraced renewable energy produced from cassava peels,” he told Business Times.

Nsanzabaganwa said the plant is currently receiving about 21 tonnes of cassava from farmers due to poor harvest, but it has capacity to process 120 tonnes of cassava per day. He added that the huge waste produced had become a challenge before they started using the peels as an energy source.

“Besides saving the environment and reducing carbon emissions, abandoning diesel has helped us save Rwf250 million so far. The amount of cassava peels we use equals between 15 and 20 per cent of tonnes of the cassava tubers we get from farmers and our gardens,” he said.

Inyange Industries adopted good waste management practices and energy efficiency use.

From 100 tonnes of cassava, they can produce 33 tonnes of flour, but with the current supply of 21 tonnes, less than 10 tonnes of flour can be produced.

Gabriel Bizimungu, the director general of Horizon SOPYRWA, a local pyrethrum processing company, said the firm used to spend almost Rwf1 million daily on diesel to power its production processes.

However, that was to change when SOPYRWA switched from diesel to energy produced by pyrethrum waste. Bizimungu said the approach has reduced the cost of production to almost zero and greatly cut on the level of air pollution. “We used to spend about Rwf900,000 on diesel every day, but we are largely depending on internally-generated energy which has significantly improved our books,” he said.

Inyange Industries waste water treatment system. 

Some of the pyrethrum waste is given to farmers free of charge to use as fuel as the firm cannot consume all of it. He added that the new source of energy has provided the plant some relief, noting that there is no disruptions in the production process due to delayed fuel delivery.

“We used to import the diesel, whose delivery could sometimes delay and disrupt operations. Presently, we don’t have any problem of energy (for heating). Our machine has capacity to turn three tonnes of pyrethrum waste every day, which is enough for us,” he said, adding that this has given them opportunity to concentrate on marketing their products. The firm makes insecticides, fertilisers and perfumes, among others.

Horizon switched from diesel (above) to clean energy. 

Firewood consumption by tea factories declines

Tea makers have also benefitted greatly from the programme, Kitabi Tea Company saves Rwf24 million annually since they adopted resource efficient and cleaner practices, as well as better waste management systems.

Jean Nepomuscene Nkurikiyinka, the Kitabi Tea Company director general, said the firm has adopted environment protection strategies by reducing firewood consumption by almost one cubic metre to produce a tonne of tea.

Horizon's new machine turning waste into clean energy. 

This enabled the company to reduce firewood consumption, pollution, and improve efficiency and productivity.

“We used to spend between four and five cubic metres (bundles) a day, but with efficient methods we use between two to three bundles of firewood,” he said.

After the firm employees were trained by Rwanda Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Centre, the company built a $6,000 (about Rwf5 million) firewood shed, which has helped to reduce the humidity levels of the wood from 40 per cent to 15 per cent.

Firewood consumption has been reduced by 15 per cent, saving the company $12,307 (Rwf10.5 million) annually.

Kinazi's treatment machine that converts waste to clean energy. 

The firm also installed a boiler economiser to recover lost heat from the chimney at $1,300, and the company saves $4,800 (Rwf4.1 million) annually in operational costs as a result, figures show.

Firms save millions through waste water management

The factory set up a water management and recycling programme at $300, saving $1,500 (Rwf1.3 million) per year. As a result, waste water was reduced from 22 per cent to 15 per cent or 31.8 per cent of savings.

Kitabi Tea also installed a shed for scrap at the factory, where metallic waste is sorted, stored, recovered, recycled and reused for utilisation in various works, for instance, making of scaffolds for general repairs and maintenance. This saves the company $2,900 (Rwf2.5 million) a year, officials said.

Kitabi tea factory workers in October 2017.

Dairy products maker, Inyange Industries, has invested in waste water treating, and collects all waste water as well as rain runoffs and recycles it and uses it in heating process. The steam generated is condensed and brought back into the entire heating process, officials said. This has helped the plant to reduce the amount of fuel used and cut on water and soil pollution.

The industry also uses energy-saving bulbs, switching from the 400-watt lamps to 15-watt bulbs, which has saved the firm a lot of money that would have been spent on energy costs and gives improved lighting, according to a REMA report.

At the industry, the entire waste water treatment process is used for gardening, cleaning, among other activities, it indicates.

Kitabi tea factory has devised efficient means of drying firewood. 

Clean production awards

Under the resource efficient and cleaner production programme, industries in the Lake Victoria basin in Rwanda are regularly sensitised on the benefits associated with the adoption of cleaner technologies.

So far, 25 industries, which are supported by REMA, have adopted the practices, way above the initial project target of eight industries, according to Jean Pierre Bucyensenge, the communication specialist at the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Rwanda.

To encourage more manufacturers and businesses to embrace the programme, the project conducts annual awards to recognise best practices, encourage the adoption of cleaner production technologies and promote efficient use of the existing resources, he added.

Local leaders laud initiative

According to Nyamagabe vice-mayor in charge of economic development, Lambert Kabayiza, under the project more jobs were created, adding that it has promoted a savings culture and adoption of new practices in the district.

Kabayiza said by investing in the environmental-friendly production practices, the firms help improve livelihoods of residents as well as safeguard the environment.


According to Niyonzima, behaviour change to facilitate adoption of the concept by the stakeholders is one of the biggest challenges they face. The official, however, added that industries that embraced the initiative are currently reporting significant benefits.

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