RWANDA – Rwanda’s Inspectorate, Competition, and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA) has called for the cessation of using paper bags and non-biodegradable sacks for meat packaging across the country.

The directive aligns with the 2010 Ministerial Order on the transport and trade of meat, specifically targeting the use of dirty or non-washable materials, including paper, for meat packing.

Gaspard Simbarikure, a Veterinary Hygiene and Quarantine Specialist at RICA, emphasized that the use of paper bags for meat packaging is illegal under existing regulations. He encouraged consumers to opt for reusable materials such as plastic boxes, dishes, or other containers to improve meat safety.

Simbarikure highlighted the potential risks associated with using non-biodegradable materials.

“Once meat is packed in sacks, for example, there may be a chemical reaction between meat and a chemical substance made of the sack or paper bag,” he explained.

The directive is in line with the broader effort to minimize health risks and ensure the highest standards in the meat industry.

However, the transition poses challenges for some meat vendors and consumers. Hamissa Uwase, a butcher shop owner in Musanze, expressed concerns about clients’ readiness for the change, noting that educating customers about the shift away from paper bags is an ongoing challenge.

Elton Nkurunziza, a representative of meat butchers in Musanze District, acknowledged the ban on paper bags but highlighted the practical difficulties faced by vendors, especially when dealing with travelers who may not carry washable materials.

He suggested exploring alternatives such as degradable plastic bags, and some investors have already expressed interest in manufacturing biodegradable plastic bags as a more environmentally friendly option.

RICA confirmed that investors have approached the authority seeking authorization to establish a manufacturing factory for biodegradable plastic bags.

Simbarikure expressed optimism that the establishment of such a factory in Rwanda could provide a sustainable solution for meat packaging materials, balancing safety, environmental impact, and affordability.

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