Rwanda has started a move to end the use of plastic bottles in government institutions switching to use of sustainable and reusable alternatives such as glasses and refillable water dispensers.
The drive was initiated by Dr. Vincent Biruta, the Minister of environment, who said that this is walking the talk to Beat Plastic Pollution.
Biruta said that his Ministry and institutions under it, will no longer use mineral water in plastic bottles, but reusable cups and/or water dispensers.
“I encourage everyone to join us to Beat Plastic Pollution! Disposable plastics like bottles, cups, straws, cutlery and plates are very dangerous for the environment. Sustainable alternatives exist!” Minister Biruta tweeted.
“No more single use bottled water during meetings and in offices. We encourage other institutions and organizations to phase out the use of single use plastics. Together let’s work to Beat Plastic Pollution” REMA said on Twitter.
This move comes few weeks before Rwanda joins the rest of the world to mark World Environment Day – June 5.
Normally drinking water bottles from local companies are distributed in plenty during ministerial meetings, conferences and summits held within hotels and institutional meeting halls.
According to Biruta, simple human behavioral change can have a big impact on the environment.
The Ministry also plans to bring other public institutions into this movement urging them to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics.
Aziz Mwiseneza, a civil servant said “This is a good idea but before it is implemented there must be education of civil servants to understand research based dangers of plastic bottles.”
He also said, the main suppliers of water in the country, including Inyange, Sulfo and Urwibutso Enterprise should take the lead, not the end user.
“We have to have alternatives in place, starting with water distributing companies to stop supplying bottled water and use other methods, that way the chain will fall to the end users,” he said.
Rwanda was the first country to successfully ban use of plastic bags in 2008, and recently followed by Kenya in 2017.
An East Africa Community report indicates that it costs about $4000 to recycle one ton of plastics and the profit you get is equivalent to $32 while a person working in recycle plant earns one cent of a dollar per kilogram of recycled plastic bags made.