BY EABW REPORTER
KIGALI, Rwanda—Rwanda has announced that it is to focus this years is on addressing plastic pollution as part of her efforts to conserve the environment.
“Today we have a unique opportunity to end plastic pollution by reducing single use plastics. The “Beat Plastic Pollution” campaign is a reminder of our responsibility to protect our ecosystems by choosing reusable alternatives to plastic and adopting environmentally friendly practices in our everyday lives.,” said Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment.
“While we don’t need a ban for us to reduce our dependence on them in our daily lives, we do need everyone to play their part. It’s simply a matter of changing our habits and choosing sustainable alternatives that won’t cost the earth. Together, we can beat plastic pollution and protect our health, and the health of generations to come,” Minister Biruta added.
World Environment Day in Rwanda was marked with a range of events and activities centered on this year’s theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution. If you can’t reuse it, refuse it” – a theme that calls upon governments, industries, communities, and individuals to come together to combat disposable plastics.
The day featured the launch of awareness campaign on sorting plastic waste and collecting plastic (PET) bottles by installing collection bins in various locations, an exhibition on alternatives to plastic and materials made from recycled plastics to highlight innovations in the country’s recycling industry and awarding winners of a school environmental competition.
“World Environment Day is not only about celebrating our amazing natural environment. It is also an opportunity to rethink our relationship with nature and how we develop our nation while at the same time improve the state of our environment,” said Eng. Coletha U. Ruhamya, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority.
“This year, we reflect on one of the most significant and pressing environmental challenges of our time: plastic pollution. We need to work together to come up with a lasting solution to this issue. Switching from single-use plastics to more sustainable alternatives is an essential investment in the future of our planet,” Eng. Ruhamya added.
Every year, millions of tons of plastics are produced around the world, most of which cannot be recycled. These plastics end up in dumpsites, rivers, lakes, oceans or water channels where they break down into tiny particles and release toxic chemicals, which make their way into our food and water supply.
For more than a decade, Rwanda has raised awareness about the benefits of life without plastics to maintain a clean and healthy environment. In 2008, the country instituted a ban on the import, manufacture, sale, and use of plastic bags. Banning the use of plastic bags in Rwanda has contributed to cleanliness and fostered investment and development opportunities, particularly in the areas of sustainable packaging and recycling.
Today, we are all called to go further and reduce plastic use: living a life without disposable plastics will make the world a better place, for today and future generations.
The events to celebrate World Environment Day in Rwanda marked the conclusion of the 2018 National Environment Week, a campaign which aimed to raise awareness on plastic pollution and reduce the burden of pollution resulting from the excessive use of single-use plastics – both on the environment and public health.