Single Use Plastic Bill on the Way with Proposed Harsh Penalties

A support staff serve water in an office in Kigali

The Ministry of environment has proposed the parliament to pass the bill on ban of Single-Use Plastic (SUPs) which also provides sanctions against polluters.

Environment Minister Dr. Vincent Biruta made the proposal on Tuesday to the parliamentary Agriculture, livestock development and environment commission where he was invited to give expertise views on the proposed Single Use Plastic bill.

“We propose that individuals and manufactures who dump this waste anyhow can be dealt with as in the environment law,” Dr. Biruta proposed.

The 14- articles draft bill was approved by cabinet in January this year following Rwanda’s step to become the first country in the region to ban all plastics with a bill passed in 2008.

Though parliament has agreed on passing the ban, with exception of some single use plastics to be used in the meantime as other environmental friendly alternatives are sought, the draft bill was bounced back to the commission.

The commission was tasked to make corrections on definition, specification of the Single Use Plastics and its collection.

This proposal suggests that at least Rwf50, 000 be charged by local government official onto individuals who dump in public space and subsequently compelled to remove the waste and repair the damage made.

It also suggests Rwf5 million fine by local government onto manufacturers, retailers and importers of the exempted single use plastics whenever they don’t manage the waste.

This may lead to subsequent halting of permits and manufacturing licenses.

To avoid any penalties, manufacturers will have to put up means of collecting this waste in public places and from their retail points of sale while users (individuals) will have to avoid dumping in public spaces.

Minister Biruta said that the intention is not to scare citizens but to develop best practices.

“The idea of separation of waste is a best practice which we cannot afford to lose,” Biruta said.

Though the list of officially banned SUP items has not been made official, KT Press managed to see a proposed total general ban on using items like coffee cups, straws, plastic water bottles, forks and balloons – arguing that there are alternatives to these.

For example, on balloons, which are commonly used for birthday and wedding celebrations, the proposal suggested that Rwandans can turn to use of locally made decorations.

For at least 30 minutes, Dr. Biruta and the commission held an open-minded debate on whether this list should be made clear in the law at hand or left to be decided at latter stages by government.

Dr. Biruta told the commission that it was better to have the list of SUP items later and first focus on the general ban, but MPs were not convinced.

“We have similar lists in ministry of health showing prohibited drug-like medication which are evaluated every period. We need a primary list of these Single Use Plastics and this list can be upgraded with time, maybe every year,” MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa suggested.

Both sides agreed that the list of Single Use Plastics items will be attached to the appendix of the bill.




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