Symphony International the UK based company has lost its deal in Rwanda of supplying environmentally friendly plastic bags due to supplying polythene bags which were not biodegradable as per agreement with the Rwandan government.
The termination of the contract was revealed on August 18, 2012, after Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) discovered that the UK-based company supplied plastic bags that were meant to be delivered to Europe instead of Africa, which cannot be biograded within the period of six months.
“The firm assured the Rwandan government that their plastic bags can be biodegraded, which was revealed that they can actually take longer than the agreed period of six months,” said Remy Norbert Duhuze, the Director of Environmental Regulation and Pollution Control Unit at REMA.
The company supplied materials through Alternative Packaging Solution, a local company for the last two years importing eight tones, which are banned normally used to wrap groceries.
Research shows that most plastic bags end up in landfills and take long to biodegrade thus posing a threat to the agricultural sector. Many animals like cows and goats die once they swallow pieces of the plastic.
The cancellation of the deal has called for the Symphony International officials, to travel to Rwanda the coming week to negotiate with the government over the lost contract. But REMA is contemplating giving the deal to other contractors and some local firms have already presented proposals to take over the deal.
Degradable plastics are plastics that breakdown in appropriate conditions due either to bacterial activity (biodegradable and compostable plastics) or as a result of physical and chemical impact splitting into small pieces over varying periods of time.
Examples of plastics that break down due to a combination of physical and bacterial activity are oil-based products such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene, polypropelene and polystyrene.
“The plastic bags that are used in Europe spend around three years to be biodegraded, but the ones they wanted take at least a year. He expressed hope that their explanation would be understood,” said Leon Sebutakirwa, the Alternative Packaging Solution manager.
He said:”We sent the samples that were for African environment and Symphony International sent bags that were meant for Europe, otherwise our products have no problems.”