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RWANDA: Single-Use Plastic Items Banned

Rwanda has banned single-use plastic items, although the import of some goods in single-use plastic packaging will be permitted, but subject to new levies. A three-month transition period for pre-existing stock and orders will be allowed, starting 12 June.

The country’s parliament passed the draft law on 12 June 2019, which covers items such as plastic bags, cups, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, and most food packaging materials. Article 3 of the draft law reads: “The manufacturing, use, importation or sale of polythene bags and single-use plastic items are prohibited.”

Importers of polythene bags and single-use plastic items in breach of the new legislation will be liable to not only dispossession of the offending imports, but also a fine equivalent to 10 times of the value of items confiscated. Wholesalers and retailers of banned items will be subject to fines of RWF700,000 (US$767) and RWF300,000 (US$330), respectively, as well as confiscation of the items.

Imported consumer goods packaged in polythene bags or single-use plastic packaging will be allowed, but will be subject to an environmental levy in accordance with relevant laws. Further exceptions may be obtained by writing to the appropriate authority, which will be responsible for establishing the guidelines on procedures and conditions for eligibility.

Wholesalers and retailers of single-use plastic items must collect and segregate the used single-use plastic items to facilitate their easy collection. Improper disposal of such plastic waste by individuals or by agencies authorised in their use will incur fines of RWF50,000 and RWF5 million respectively. Single-use plastic items which have already been ordered or in stock are exempted from the application of the law for a period of three months from its commencement.

The draft law was previously approved by the country’s cabinet on 27 January, and now, with the approval of parliament, will soon become law. Rwanda introduced a law banning plastic bags in 2008 that primarily affected domestic production. The new law extends the scope to other single-use plastics and also specifically targets imported products.

The move follows a steady tightening of laws in the African continent. Kenya and Tanzania have both recently introduced tough laws against plastic bags and single-use plastic.

A draft of the law can be downloaded here.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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