Burundi has declared that the imports of non-biodegradable bags are prohibited from 22nd August 2019, thus becoming the latest African Nation to ban plastic bags.
The Minister of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, Mr. Déo-Guide Rurema, held, a press briefing on the status of implementation of Decree No. 100/099 prohibiting the import, manufacture, marketing and use of plastic bags and another packaging.
According to Mr. Rurema, the problem of plastic bags is now on the agenda of almost all countries in general and Burundi in particular.
Harmful effects of the non-biodegradable material
He added that Burundi is the only country in the East African Community that is still reaping the harmful effects of plastic waste because, according to him, it does not yet have a clear policy on the management of plastics.
Minister Rurema indicated that a grace period of 18 months has been granted to dispose of stocks and orders placed.
Today, he said, within six months of the expiry of this grace period, the situation is that the bags are still used as before and are observed in large quantities in the markets.
There are also huge stocks in the depots of pouch factories. Even some manufacturers and importers say there are still orders outstanding, he added.
Referring to data from Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR), the Minister of the Environment said that analysis of statistical data on imports of plastic bags during the period of 11 months before the implementation of that decree and the 11-month period after its establishment shows that imports after the implementation of the decree are very significant and give worrying results.
According to him, there is, as an indication, one of the importers whose imports of plastic bags went from 700 packages before the decree to 55 038 618 packages after the decree.
Dispose of waste material before it is too late
Compared to the raw material, he gave the example of one of the importers whose imports went from 364 566 kg before the decree to 997 382 kg after the decree.
Mr. Rurema explained that if imports of plastic bags and imports of raw material continue at this rate, it will be difficult to dispose of the stocks before the grace period expires.
But this grace period must be respected, and this requires measures that must be taken in accordance with the law, he said.
He took the opportunity to inform the public that from Thursday, August 22, 2019, all imports of ethylene polymer bags (non-biodegradable) and raw materials used to manufacture the latter are prohibited, and all authorizations already granted for that purpose will be canceled.
He asked the OBR and the police to help ensure that those measures are adopted.
However, he said, the ministry will verify the authenticity of the authorizations that were used in different imports.
He reassured the public not to worry about substitute products, saying that they already exist even on the market.
Minister Rurema noted that to encourage proponents of substitute products, a joint ministerial ordinance has been drawn up and will soon be put in place to define incentive arrangements.
Report by Region Week https://regionweek.com/burundi-becomes-the-latest-african-nation-to-ban-plastic-bags/