Plastic packaging: banned but still used

In August 2018, a decree banning disposable plastic bags and sachets was signed. And it was in 2020 that a related law came into force. Unfortunately, these products are still there, despite all these regulatory texts. What’s wrong?

Ce decree signed by the late President Pierre Nkurunziza prohibits the manufacture, import, storage, sale and use of all plastic bags and other packaging.

In its article 1, this decree specifies its triple objective. First, there is a question of establishing a control framework for the use of plastic bags and other packaging. Next, promote the use of materials that do not degrade the environment. And finally, to prevent any kind of pollution caused by bags and other plastic products.

The same decree reveals in its article 4, a list of plastic materials that can benefit from a special exemption. These include biodegradable plastic bags and pouches, plastic materials used in medical services, plastic materials used in industrial packaging, pharmaceuticals, in industrial construction, in the manufacture of tents, in research laboratories as well as as plastic materials used in education as didactic materials.

And in this case, mentions the same decree, a written request must be sent to the minister responsible for the environment. It must specify the reason for the request, the quantities requested and the estimated period of use, the procedures for managing and disposing of plastic waste after use.

This decree came out in a context where the importance of this kind of products was at a worrying rate according to official data. The Minister in charge of the environment at the time Déo Guide Rurema had pointed out that over the eleven months preceding the decree, the import of plastic bags and bags was 1,356,028 parcels against 179,967,500 parcels 11 months after the decree. decree. And for raw materials, it was 994,213 packages before the decree and 2,443,891 after. For plastic bottles, the same minister had reported 1,328,497 packages before and 1,644,057 packages after. A proof that these products are very abundant on the market.

And to allow companies, traders to sell their stocks, a period of 18 months has been granted. A period that elapsed in 2020.

On the ground, the reality is troubling

Just take a quick trip to some small shops to realize that these plastic packaging are still there two years after the end of the grace period. In markets, shops, cafeterias, bakeries, etc. the plastic bags should be nowhere to be found. However, the reality is quite different. Some people are unaware that these products are prohibited: “Yes, there are a lot of stocks. If you want some, I can bring you even 50 kg of sachets. It depends on you “, replies a bread seller, met in the parking lot of Musaga, south-east of Bujumbura, the economic capital. In his hands, he has about twenty pieces of bread, each in its white bag.

For him, it is a material that he uses every day. “Do you know that these sachets are prohibited? », I ask him. ” By who ? Since when ? », he replies, before adding that this is the first time he has heard this. Another bread seller in this same parking lot knows: ” Yes yes. I heard on the radio that these sachets are prohibited. And it’s been over two years.” he reframes, his friend, while nevertheless pointing out that no one came to forbid them to use these sachets. “Actually, if it’s a fault, it’s up to our suppliers. They always supply us with bread wrapped in these bags,” he points out, noting that when you look for the black bags, you can find them.

What is true. Because, in the city center, ZK, is a fruit vendor. In his basin, above the biodegradable bags of green and red colors, you can see a packet of black bags. At the slightest passage of the police, she tries to hide them well.

Next to these bags, plastic bottles are swarming. They are used for the sale of palm oil, mineral water, certain drinks, etc. And after use, tons and tons are thrown into the gutters. The case of the gutter leading to the Brarudi passing west of the Ruvumera market in Buyenzi is revealing.

The final destination of all these pollutants being Lake Tanganyika, a national and regional heritage which provides more than 90% of the water used in the city of Bujumbura. These products therefore constitute a threat to the lake, its biodiversity, but also to humans.

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