Manufacturers of single-use plastics count losses as Rwanda moves to end plastic pollution


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Manufacturers of single-use plastics count losses as Rwanda moves to end plastic pollution

Yanditswe Feb, 21 2020 20:46 PM

Local Manufactures of Single-Use Plastics here in Rwanda say they are incurring losses because they are no longer able to sell their products in the country, even though the two year grace period they were given has not elapsed.

Others argue however that the ban on such plastics will open up avenues for such manufactures to start producing replacement materials. 

We visited a Plastic Straw making Factory on Friday morning and found its operators quite distressed over the fact that fewer and fewer customers are buying from them, in the wake on the ban on single use plastics.

Anitha Urayeneza, an entrepreneur said: "Because as Rwandans we have a responsibility to protect the environment, we asked for a five year grace period to organize ourselves decide on what to produce next, but we were given just 2 years as per the law. To make things worse, our customers were given just 3 months to stop using such plastics. We verified and we were told that the wholesalers and retailers too may get 2 years. But one must wonder, why would you give them 3 months? Who will buy our products then, even as we continue to produce them for those 2 years? Our customers are too afraid to buy our products now and we have started feeling the losses," 

While Industries have until September next year to stop importing or manufacturing single-use plastics, wholesalers and retailers were required to stop buy the plastics by the end of last year.

Other regular citizens also wonder why the factories would be allowed to continue if no one can buy their products and what will replace the single-use plastics.

Some business owners on the other argue however that such changes always bring opportunities.

Theo Gakire Ntarugera, Head of Select Kalaos, a printing company said: "In the begining it is always hard, just as people were once hooked on plastic bags. To me however, this is an opportunity. People only need to make investments and look for alternatives. For example, the technology exists to make paper like straws. But first, people must be willing to make changes." 

The two-year grace period for single-use plastic manufacturers does not include exports, so everything they make must be used here in Rwanda until the deadline runs out and officials at the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) say that even though not all plastics can be banned before alternatives are found, the law must still be respected.

Eng. Collette Ruhamya, REMA Director General said: "For some products we do not have replacements and we know that they are essential. That is how the Government formulated this law, we met with different stakeholders to look into which products will be classified as exceptions. So those factories will change their business models to assist those making those products that as yet cannot be replaced because life must go on,"

Researchers have confirmed that more than 300 million tons of plastic are dumped on the planet annually and if the trend continues, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by the year 2050, which will mean catastrophe for marine life.

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