Rwanda: 2022 – When Rwanda Led Global Efforts to End Plastic Waste

In 2022, Rwanda led efforts to eliminate plastic pollution by drafting an agreement that could end plastic waste by 2040.

Rwanda banned plastic bags in 2008 and single use plastics in 2019.

Peru and Rwanda initiated the idea to develop a global treaty to end plastic pollution globally by 2040 with negotiations to achieve that have started recently.

Prof Elias Bizuru, a conservation researcher and lecturer at the University of Rwanda College of Science and Technology said that regulations against plastics should be strengthened.

“Enforcement through inspection fines against those dealing plastics needs more effort. It is not enough to only confiscate plastics. Even fines seem to be lighter,” he said.

The New Times takes stock of the progress made so far in 2022 on the efforts to end plastic waste.

Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement

In March, Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from UN Member States endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in Nairobi to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024.

The idea to develop a global treaty to end plastic pollution was initiated by Rwanda and later supported by Peru before it was passed as a resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) held in March in Nairobi.

The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which began its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024.

If the international legally binding agreement is forged by 2024, countries could then be able to end plastic waste by 2040.

It is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.

Exposure to plastics can harm human health, potentially affecting fertility, hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity, and open burning of plastics contributes to air pollution.

By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal would account for 15 per cent of allowed emissions, under the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (34.7°F) according to UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Some 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into the oceans.

This may triple by 2040.

A shift to a circular economy can reduce the volume of plastics entering oceans by over 80 per cent by 2040; reduce virgin plastic production by 55 per cent; save governments US$70 billion by 2040; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent; and create 700,000 additional jobs – mainly in the global south.

Rwanda, Norway launch coalition to end plastic pollution

In August, Governments of Rwanda and Norway launched the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution together with Canada, Peru, Germany, Senegal, Georgia, Republic of Korea, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Iceland, Ecuador and France.

The High Ambition Coalition was first initiated following the historic UN Environment Assembly resolution 5/14 passed in March 2022 to start negotiations of an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.

The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution will issue statements and undertake intersessional work on essential elements and issues to inform the negotiations in order to develop a landmark treaty by 2024.

Rwanda is also Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution and so far 50 countries have joined the coalition.

Negotiations begun in Uruguay

Rwanda joined nations from around the world in Uruguay to begin drafting a global treaty to end plastic pollution with the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC1), which will develop an internationally legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.

The session took place in Punta del Este from November 28 to December 2, 2022, following multi-stakeholder and regional consultations as well as bureau meetings held on 26 and 27 November 2022 respectively.

The historic resolution to end plastic pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024 is considered the most important environment-related resolution taken since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

The process to draft and negotiate the treaty will take two years.

The aim is to eliminate plastic waste upstream during production and polymer formation, midstream at product g and downstream during waste management.

Rwanda Makes Case for ‘Global Fund’ to Help End Plastic Pollution

Rwanda is advocating a ‘global multilateral fund’ that will finance efforts by countries in ending plastic pollution by 2040.

The proposed fund is part of a global Treaty on plastic pollution to end plastic pollution that is being drafted

On December 8, on the sidelines of the World Circular Economy forum in Kigali, Rwanda and Norway held a “High Ambition Coalition to end plastic pollution” event to share information about the way forward to end plastic pollution by 2040.

Mobilizing investors to recycle plastic waste

The government of Rwanda and Private Sector Federation (PSF), on November 23, launched a project to engage businesses and investors in contributing fees to help collect and recycle single-use plastic waste.

At least Rwf700 million in fees could be mobilized from the private sector in five years to manage plastics.

More than 6,000 tonnes of single-use plastic waste need recycling every year in Rwanda.

Olivier Mbera, Country General Manager of Enviroserve-a recycling company partnering in collecting single-use plastics, said that so far, since June this year, only 100 tonnes are being collected per month against a generation of more than 500 tonnes of single-use plastic waste every month.

Beathe Siborurema who studied Heat and mass transfer, a unit in the mechanical engineering course at IPRC Kigali is able to manufacture 520 tiles per month from plastic, with at least three permanent customers giving them a command of 20 tiles per day.

Sibo Engineering CO Ltd tiles cost Rfw2, 500 per small one, Rfw5, 000 per medium piece and Rfw15, 000 for extra-large. The tiles are used for construction mostly, but also making tables and bathroom materials, such as sinks.

Cedric Prince Mugunga, an environmental expert who works at a new company dubbed “WECAN Recycle Ltd” said that they have begun to recycle different plastics including single-use plastics to supply the pellets (a small, rounded, compressed mass of a substance produced from recycled plastics) as raw materials to factories to make other products.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *