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UNEP chief praises Rwanda for plastic bag ban

by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) Feb 17, 2011
The head of the UN environment agency Achim Steiner praised the Rwandan authorities Thursday for their success in banning plastic bags.

The fact that the tiny central African nation has succeeded in becoming plastic-bag free boils down to "leadership, determination and a willingness to address issues," Steiner told a press conference here.

"In Rwanda you have seen a government that has looked at the challenges that environmental degradation poses ... and has been willing to act on that and seize the opportunities for new kinds of jobs, business and a different development path," he went on.

His remarks come ahead of next week's release of a UNEP report on environmentally sustainable development in Rwanda.

"There are leaders who take responsibility and catalyse innovation in their country and that makes a big difference," Steiner said.

"I'm still perplexed at how many countries are reluctant to act on thin film plastic bags," Steiner said, noting that Kenya, where the agency is based "has been discussing the issue for the past decade."

Rwanda passed a law banning plastic bags in 2004 and has gone to great lengths to enforce it, even removing them from travellers arriving at the country's border posts.

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