Rwanda is actively seeking investors to engage in the development of alternative packaging solutions that are environmentally friendly.
Faustin Munyazikwiye, the Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), made this announcement during a panel discussion on ‘Packaging and Logistics in Agribusiness’ held on 27 June as part of the EU-Rwanda Business Forum.
The EU-Rwanda Business Forum, themed ‘Rwanda – Your Gateway to Africa,’ brought together more than 600 participants from Rwanda and Europe. Attendees included industry leaders from the private sector, diplomats and other officials.
Munyazikwiye emphasised the significance of innovation, research and the use of appropriate raw materials to achieve sustainable packaging solutions and combat plastic pollution in Rwanda.
Call for investors in glass bottle recycling
Munyazikwiye expressed eagerness to attract investors interested in the recycling of glass bottles, as there is a noticeable shift from plastic to glass bottles among operators.
However, he stressed the importance of ensuring that glass bottles do not become a burden for the community. To address this, he called for innovative collaborations between the public and private sectors to tackle the challenge together.
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Presently, only two beverage manufacturers, Inyange Industries and Skol, have initiated trials for packaging water in glass bottles.
While Rwanda allows the use of home compostable plastics, Munyazikwiye urged investors to consider this alternative as businesses gradually transition towards sustainable packaging solutions.
He emphasised the detrimental impact of plastics on the environment and the need to explore cost-effective alternatives.
The call for investment in home compostable plastics comes in response to the demand from business players who argue that certain products, such as flour, cannot be feasibly exported in paper bags that may undergo changes in substance due to environmental factors.
Rwanda’s sustainable packaging journey
Rwanda has been at the forefront of sustainable packaging initiatives since 2019, when it introduced a law banning the manufacturing and importation of single-use plastics.
In line with this commitment, REMA and the private sector have entered into an agreement whereby private operators using plastic bottles must contribute a certain amount for the collection and recycling of those bottles. Currently, businesses using plastic bottles pay RwFr90 per kilogramme of collected bottles.
This initiative aligns with the impending environmental levy scheme, which is yet to be implemented. Currently, there are at least seven companies involved in plastic recycling activities, focusing on bottles and polythene bags.
Encouragement for businesses to embrace sustainable development
Thibault Relecom, the Chief Executive of UNIBA and shareholder of Skol Brewery Rwanda shared insights into the use of plastic bottles and their environmental impact over the years. He encouraged other businesses to adopt innovative solutions in their pursuit of sustainable development.
Rwanda’s push for investors in environmentally friendly packaging innovations reflects its commitment to combat plastic pollution and lead the way in sustainable practices.
With a focus on glass bottle recycling and home compostable plastics, the country aims to create a more sustainable future while fostering partnerships between the public and private sectors.