RWANDA – Rwanda’s parliament has passed a draft law prohibiting the manufacture, importation, use and sale of single-use plastic items in the country, a move that reiterates commitment to environmental protection.

Single-use plastics are used only once before disposal which leads to their rapid accumulation in the environment subsequently causing pollution – if not recycled.

Most of single-use plastics are not biodegradable and include plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, disposable cutleries and most food packaging materials.

“The manufacturing, use, importation or sale of polythene bags and single-use plastic items are prohibited,” reads part of the draft law that explains key issues concerning the proposed ban.

According to the draft law, imported consumer goods packaged in polythene bags or single-use plastic items will be subject to an environmental levy in accordance with relevant laws, reports New Times.

In addition, person(s) who intend to manufacture, use, and import or sell single-use plastic items for exceptional reasons have to write and apply for an exceptional authorisation issued by the competent authority.

The law has also mandated several institutions for inspection and control of manufacturing, importation, use or sale the plastic items to reinforce its actualisation.

Among other measures, the legislation has also imposed hefty fines for persons found in custody of the single use plastics.

Notably, a person who manufactures single-use plastic items is liable to closure of the activity, dispossession of such items and to an administrative fine of Rwf10 million (US$10,970).

Single-use plastic items which are already ordered or in stock are exempted from the application of this draft law in a period of three months from its commencement, it says.

The Government of Rwanda has made the protection of the environment a big priority and the use of plastic bags has already been banned for many years in the country- since 2008.

Rwanda’s environmental protection policies have made the country ecosystem’s value shore up contributing to a collective growth across various sectors.

Rwanda is one of 40 countries around the world that have not only restricted, banned, or taxed the use of plastic bags, but also put in place stringent measures to violators probably resulting to the impressive results.

In March this year, the European Union legislators also approved a sweeping ban on the use of ten single-use plastics including cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, that are most commonly found across European nations.

As the ban is expected to come into effect in 2021, the EU has also committed to collect and recycle 90% of beverage bottles by 2029.

China last year moved to ban the import of 24 varieties of solid waste, including types of plastic and unsorted paper.

The World Economic Forum estimates that there are about 150 million tons of plastic in the world’s seas, while research suggests there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world’s oceans by 2050.