Kigali’s poor waste disposal systems coupled with lack of incentives are undermining ongoing recycling initiatives that could help the city manage its waste and reduce air pollution.
Rwanda Today has learnt that a number of waste recycling companies found the sector difficult after their efforts were frustrated by the current collection systems where waste is delivered to a dumpsite unsorted.
Lack of waste separation at source has resulted in firms being unwilling to invest huge amounts into expensive waste sorting equipment due to lack of incentives.
This has seen many opt out the business while in other instances delivered volumes were not enough to sustain production.
Pivot Works, a firm which had set up a plant that would convert faecal matter into solid fuel then sell to local manufacturing companies as a replacement for coal, closed shop citing low volume and inefficient disposal systems.
Amizero, another local firm that recycled biodegradable garbage to produce pellets as a substitute to wood and charcoal has also quit operations.
The two firms cited lack of support amid high costs associated with getting raw materials from the existing poor waste disposal systems.
This is a major setback to Kigali’s plans for a better way to manage its growing volume of waste.
“Without incentives and waste separation systems at the generation level, it’s hard to attract investment in the recycling sector. What this means is that the city will need to keep expanding or creating landfills, creating a serious waste crisis,” said Paulin Buregeya, a waste management expert running a garbage collection and transportation firm, Coped Ltd.
Mr Buregeya, who tried entering the recycling business with difficulty, told Rwanda Today that the barriers made it even more difficult for a few existing small-scale recyclers, who are mainly focused on paper, plastic, metals and organic materials recycling as they struggle to get the raw material.
He said recycling would only be possible after carrying out educational campaigns for a few selected households who can be taught how to sort waste before it is taken to a separate site for processing.
However, this would come at a huge cost for recyclers in the absence of incentives, according to Floride Mukarubuga, executive secretary of Amizero.
Meanwhile, in the absence of a central sewage system and good recycling technologies for a variety of solid waste, all garbage continues to be channeled to a site at the top of a hill in the outskirts Nduba area.
Constructed without prior environmental impact assessment, Kigali City has come under criticism over the pollution emanating from the landfill to the surrounding homes and the City’s environment.
The landfill was set up after the closure of the Nyanza dumpsite, five years ago.
Kigali City authorities told Rwanda Today the Nduba dumpsite will be closed after a new one is set up, which will have a sustainable solution and utilise new technology.
However, they were not specific about where the new landfill would be located and what it will cost since estimates will be determined by a study that is yet to be carried out.
John Mugabo, Solid and Liquid Waste management officer at Kigali City said they were still exploring viable recycling technologies that can help avert potential sanitation and environmental risks.
“We are still working with investors who are offering different options and the best option will be considered after they have presented their plan,” he said.