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EYE ON AFRICA

Burundi approves new constitution allowing president to extend time in power

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THE DEBATE

Populist takeover: Italy approves unprecedented coalition

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FOCUS

Young Nicaraguans lead protests against President Ortega

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ENCORE!

Music show: Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee, Snow Patrol & Natalie Prass

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TALKING EUROPE

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn: 'Either we import stability, or we export instability'

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TALKING EUROPE

From Italy to Cyprus via Hungary: A look back at key events in Europe

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BUSINESS DAILY

US-China trade war is 'on hold'

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#TECH 24

Is GDPR a good thing for EU tech companies?

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PERSPECTIVE

'The internet is like water, we need to help children understand how to swim'

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DOWN TO EARTH

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7.20 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2013-04-22

Rwanda's plastic bag-free utopia

Not so long ago, Rwanda suffered from an all-too-familiar problem in Africa: billions of plastic bags choking waterways and destroying entire ecosystems. To fight this scourge of the environment, the government launched a radical policy to ban all non-biodegradable plastic from the country.

Since 2008, anyone arriving in Rwanda is ordered to give up their plastic or have it confiscated. Flight attendants pre-warn passengers as they land in the capital Kigali and authorities are braced to seize this new form of contraband at the border with other African nations.

As with many other illegal goods, plastic bag trafficking has become lucrative and offenders can end up in jail.

While Rwanda has been hailed for transforming its landscape, certain businesses have suffered as a result of the law. The alternative to plastic bags is paper, which is both more expensive and less durable.

In this first episode of Down to Earth, we travel to Rwanda to investigate whether banning plastic is an untenable attempt at preserving the environment or an audacious policy that serves as a lesson to the rest of the continent.

 

A programme produced in association with African Development Bank

By Mairead DUNDAS , Juliette LACHARNAY , Marina BERTSCH

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