By Annonciata Byukusenge
In media briefing on World Environment Day Special Tackling Plastic Pollution, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) Madame Juliet Kabera, highlighted the effort of Rwanda in eradicating single use plastics and how achieved.
This virtual briefing held on this Saturday 3rd June 2023, attended by journalists from around the world and experts from different countries. The World Environment Day 2023 on 5th June, theme is solution to plastic solution.
In her speech, DG Kabera said that: “We have chosen to make effort in eradicating single use plastics in order to cover the life of our community and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from plastic waste. We invested in waste management. This is also done by collecting waste and placing it in designated engines with an emphasis on separating biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, mainly plastic pollution.”
In 2019, Rwanda passed a transformative law that began phasing out all single-use plastics. The law aims to control the growing habit of unnecessary consumption and disposal of single-use plastic items that became a burden on the environment. The law also imposes stiff fines against users using single-use plastics.
The attendee understood the scale of the plastic problem and the world’s efforts towards developing a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution and be aware on where countries including India stand in this war on a scourge that is threatening to choke us.
Solutions to plastic pollution
According to the United Nations, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled.
An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually. That is approximately the weight of 2,200 Eiffel Towers all together.
Microplastics tiny plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter find their way into food, water and air. It is estimated that each person on the planet consumes more than 50,000 plastic particles per year and many more if inhalation is considered.
Discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity and pollutes every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor.
With available science and solutions to tackle the problem, governments, companies and other stakeholders must scale up and speed actions to solve this crisis.
About the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution
The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was established under the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), bringing together representatives from nations across the world to collaborate on the development of a comprehensive and binding instrument to tackle plastic pollution at its roots, by covering the entire ‘Life cycle of Plastic’. In the first meeting of the INC, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, the committee had made little progress. One notable achievement was the formation of a ‘Group of Friends of Waste Pickers’, a voluntary body to ensure waste pickers are heard. The second meeting of the INC is being held in Paris, France from May 29 to June 2, 2023.
World Environment Day 2023 is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matters. The steps governments and businesses are taking to tackle plastic pollution are the consequence of this action.
It is time to accelerate this action and transition to a circular economy. It is time to #BeatPlasticPollution.