Plastics production (i.e. 450 million tons per annum globally), use and disposal (i.e. 300 million tons per annum globally) are one of the top environmental concerns and global waste management impediments. Over the past decades, researchers’ voices have repeatedly been raised for acting and saving inland as well as aquatic ecosystems being harmed by the increasing plastic pollution. Micro plastics have also been reported to be in tap water, bottled drinks and in fish we eat. Consequently, conventions have been signed, laws and regulations enforced (banning, increased taxation, etc.) in various regions and countries across the globe for lessening plastics harm on the environment. In this struggle, Rwanda looks to be in front line compared to other regional and continental countries; hence resulted in calling its capital Kigali by many, “the African cleanest city”.
In fact, more than a decade ago Rwanda has banned non- biodegradable plastic bags and this initiative was recently followed by the outlawing of single-use plastic items as one of long-term strategies of becoming a green and climateresilient nation. The ban aimed at minimizing dangers of plastic pollution to humans, farm animals, aquatic lives and the environment. Rwanda’s current strong institutional, political will, legal frameworks and active citizens in terms of eliminating plastic pollution foster socio-economic development and environmental protection; hence benefiting from ecosystem services. Active participation of citizens in community works (Umuganda in mother tongue; one of home-grown solutions of mutual collaboration to achieve specific goals), meticulous plastic related laws enforcement (strong political will) and public awareness campaigns (i.e. environmental clubs in schools, green education, etc.) are 3 pillars which are enabling Rwanda to the successful beating of plastic pollution. The national moto for sustainable environmental management is: “whatever cannot be recycled or reused must not be produced”.
Thus, the present paper reviews the state of environmental impacts of plastics, approaches adopted for alleviating the harm from plastics in Rwanda and their implementation procedures which gave credits to the country on global environmental protection scene so that lessons from these practices can be benchmarked or become the starting point to other countries with similar ambitions and goals. The current solid waste management (i.e mainly plastics) and challenges are also discussed in order to be addressed by the authority in charge. Data and literature were retrieved from peer-reviewed journal articles, websites, books, reports, and dissertations, local and international online newspapers.
Despite significant efforts made towards plastic pollution alleviation in Rwanda, to the best of our knowledge no scientific research has been so far conducted to prove how plastic wastes contributed over the past years to flooding, prevented crops from growing, to what extent plastic litters have restrained rainwater from penetrating various soil types and other forms of plastic pollution. Such studies are paramount for scientifically justify the ban initiatives in the country. This review resulted into encyclopedia that other researchers can build on, specifically to those wishing to learn from plastic banning procedures followed in Rwanda.
Published Date: 2021-04-01; Received Date: 2021-02-17