Burundi: Environment activist applauds government decision to ban use of plastic packaging

“The manufacture, import, storage, marketing and use of plastic bags and all plastic packaging are banned,” reads the presidential decree issued on August 13.

One of the garbage dumps with too many plastic bags in Bujumbura city

One of the garbage dumps with too many plastic bags in Bujumbura city

“The measure was taken because plastics have a negative impact on the environment, human and animal health,” said Déo-Guide Rurema, Environment Minister at a press conference on 14 August.
He said the degradation of plastic objects takes between 400 and 1200 years. According to Rurema, plastic bottles are not concerned by the measure.

Companies manufacturing products that are contained in plastic packaging will have the duty to collect them in order to reuse, recycle or transform them into biodegradable materials.

Minister Rurema calls for the combination of efforts of each and everyone in order to implement the measure. He also calls for the work in synergy of the ministries in charge of security, customs service, industry, environment, trade and the home affairs.

Eighteen months is the deadline set to get rid of stocks already on site. Déo-Guide Rurema believes that economic operators will have already invested in the production of biodegradable packaging during this grace period.

Minister Rurema believes in the collaboration between the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Commerce and operators in order to put in place alternative methods of plastic bags. He says the Ministry of Environment is advanced in the implementation of a project for the management of other polluting wastes, including household, biomedical and electrical wastes.

“It’s a step forward. This measure was delayed but better late than never,” said Albert Mbonerane, an environmental activist.

He asks the government to “support those who will invest in the recycling of these plastic wastes”.
Mr Mbonerane says the government should ensure a program on the content of this decree is broadcast on the national radio and television so that users, manufacturers and importers of plastic materials don’t say they didn’t know it.

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