If you illegally manufacture single-use plastic bags or other plastic materials such as plates and cups, you will be slapped with a heavy fine of Rwf10 million and have all your products confiscated, Environment Ministry warned on Wednesday.
The warning follows adoption of the Law No. 17/2019 of 10/8/2019 relating to prohibition of manufacturing, importation, use and sell of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic materials.
Government says the law, which came after a 2008 law no. 57/2008 of 10/9/2008 relating to prohibition of manufacturing, importation, use and sell of polythene bags was adopted.
Since then, it has become a common practice for all travelers coming to Rwanda either by air or other means of transport to leave all polythene bags in designated garbage before entering the country.
Now that the new law adds more plastic materials, all citizens and travelers will be careful and avoid any possible punishment.
“The use materials that replace single-use plastic materials is in our own interest and saves the environment,” said Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of environment during a press conference to discuss implementation of the law.
The law further provides that a person caught illegally importing single-use plastic materials into the country, will see his or her products confiscated and face a penalty worth ten folds the value of the products.
An illegal wholesaler of single-use plastics in the country will be liable to a fine of Rwf700, 000 and confiscation of the materials. For illegal retailers of single-use plastic materials, the culprits will be fined Rwf300,000 and have all their products confiscated, the new law further says.
According to the new law, anyone disposing single-use plastic material to an undesignated place will be fined Rwf50,000 and be forced to clear any possible damage caused.
Banned single-use plastic materials
Food wrappers or single containers, straws and stirrers, Utensils such as forks and knives; single-use plates and cups, take-away containers, balloons, plastic folders and badges are the materials banned with immediate effect, the new law directed.
In some cases, however, some single-use plastic materials were banned but guaranteed a special permission until viable alternatives.
These include single use beverage or petty bottles, Lids to coffee cups, Ear Buds; plastic toothbrushes as well as plastic advertisement, fliers and cheering materials used at stadiums and big gatherings.
Under the new guidelines, Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) provided alternatives while for some other materials, “we can do without,” REMA says.
Meanwhile, big manufacturers and/or users of single use plastic materials in the country were given a two-year period to phase out the materials. The period started in September last year and runs until September next year.
Big food and beverage companies in the country that could be affected by this deadline include Inyange Industries, Sulfo Rwanda Industries, Entreprise Urwibutso- Nyirangarama, to mention but a few.
For the rest, fines apply since February this year.