4 June 2018

Rwanda: Minister Biruta - Together, We Can Beat Plastic Pollution

Photo: Nadege Imbabazi/New Times
Minister for Environment Vincent Biruta addresses participants during the launch of the National Environment Week, as Minister for Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka (centre) and PSF CEO Steven Ruzibiza look on.

Environment Minister Dr Vincent Biruta has called on the general public to join efforts to beat plastic pollution in their communities to protect the environment, which is increasingly being endangered by plastic items.

Biruta was speaking while closing the 'Beat Plastic Pollution Walk' held in Kigali during the Kigali Car Free Day on Sunday.

The walk, which was part of the ongoing 2018 National Environment Week, was organised by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment with the aim to raise awareness and encourage the general public to join the effort to address plastic pollution.

Addressing to the Kigali Car Free Day participants in Kimihurura, Biruta said the fight against plastic pollution is everyone's responsibility as he called on the public to stand against the use of single-used plastic items.

"Plastics cannot be recycled nor transformed. When it rains, a lot of plastic materials littered in different places are carried away to the rivers and other water bodies and sometimes they end up affecting aquatic animals' lives," said the Minister.

He added: "We should avoid unnecessary use of some plastic items, like straws, while we can replace them with other items which can be used more than once. This should be everyone's responsibility if we want to beat plastics and it is possible if everyone's contribution is made".

If nothing is done, he said, tonnes and tonnes of plastics will end up in rivers, and by 2050, they will be more than the quantity of fish in water bodies.

"That is why we now want the campaign to go beyond fighting plastic bags to any single-use plastic item. Fighting plastics should not be understood as a way to interrupt businesses for some but ensure health security of the world community; we need everyone's contribution to beat plastic pollution. Anyone can help change mindset as a way to keep supporting our country make progress toward clean environment," he said.

In 2008, the Government of Rwanda successfully decided to ban plastic bags from being used anymore, and this has since played a positive role in development efforts.

The latest campaign by the ministry and affiliated agencies now target straws and other disposable materials like plastic cups, plates and straws among others.

"Beating single-use plastics can be possible only if factories make items, which can be used more than once. Of course, we can give up on using single-use plastic items and replace them with glass or reusable plastic items in case we want to drink water to avoid the damage they cause on environment," said Philippe Twagirumukiza, a city of Kigali resident who attended the walk.

On Tuesday, Rwanda will join the rest of the world to celebrate the World Environment Day, under the theme 'Beat Plastic Pollution'.

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