Making the case for circular economy and green growth

The Director General of the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) Dr. Christian Sekomo Birame has urged industry players, SMEs, private and public institutions to embrace the circular economy as it enables growth, protects the environment and boosts productivity.

Dr. Sekomo was speaking during the high level meeting on the Cleaner Production and Innovation and Climate Innovation Centre (CPCIC) to discuss how to increase industrial productivity and drive the circular economy in Rwanda.

The meeting, held on October 21, 2021, was organised by NIRDA through CPCIC with financial support from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI Rwanda). It brought together participants from industries, SMEs, Public and Private Institutions.

“Circular economy enables growth, increased productivity for our industries, creation of green jobs that our population needs and environment sustainability. It is a win-win situation that everyone of us should embrace,” he said.

Sekomo told participants that the Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre (CPCIC) was established with the aim to help industries, SMEs , public and private institutions to adopt best practices in terms of resources efficient, cleaner production, circular economy and innovation.

“As we discuss how local industries and SMES can efficiently use available resources, improve waste management, and reduce their environmental footprint, we must renew our commitment to green industrial production,” he added.

He stressed that over the past few years, NIRDA and the Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre and a range of other partners, have been implementing programs to optimize and scale-up sustainable and climate resilient management of natural resources, Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy in select sectors.

Those sectors, he said, include public institutions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the private sector.

“These activities are aimed to support Rwanda’s ambitions of achieving green growth: becoming a deeveloped nation that achieves growth without compromising the environment,” he said.

“The Government of Rwanda has put in place strategies, plans and policies to drive this development. It is our role to make sure that we join this journey and support these efforts,” assured Dr. Sekomo

 “ Over the years, we have proved that we can grow, increase production and at the same time reduce emission and contribute to environment sustainability. It is the time to scale it up for even much more gains. NIRDA is committed to keep supporting Industrial Green Growth through the centre and other activities to ensure that our industries develop and that our environment does not become the victim of that development,” he concluded.

Beatrice Cyiza, The Director General for Environment and Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment, told participants that moving from the linear to a circular model of development entails changing practices, adopting new processes and approaches to production and consumption.

She said: “Embracing circular economy bring the changes we all aspire for, as we strive for sustainable development. It must start with me and you, and collectively we will achieve bigger impact.”

Among key actions to undertake, Cyiza noted, include reducing waste and eliminating them where possible, introducing recycling practices, proper waste management practices as well as efficiently using resources.

Liliane Mupende, of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI Rwanda) said: “We have so much waste that we can work to turn into new products [and] one industry, or one SME can feed into one another; providing waste to serve as raw materials to another. The challenge that we must solve is to create strong linkages between waste generators and recyclers [so they can be processed into new products] and to create networks that allow SMEs, start-ups and industries to drive circular economies.”

“The CPCIC and other institutions are doing a commendable work in terms of circular economies. What’s next is now to scale the work to create the desired impact.”

The Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre was created in 2018 with a vision of becoming a center of excellence and merit for Resource efficient, Cleaner Production, Climate Innovation Technologies and Prosumer Economy in Rwanda.

 It replaced the Rwanda Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Centre (RRECPC) which was merged with the planned Climate Innovation Centre.

According to Sylvie Mugabekazi, a Technical Expert at the CPCIC, the Centre has been instrumental in supporting industries, SMEs and organizations to improve their productivity, benefits and contributions to environment protection over the past years. For instance, she said, since 2008 industries working with the Centre reduce over 30,000 tons of Carbon dioxide (CO2) every, 41million megajoules (MJ) of electricity and over 22,300 tons of solid waste.

The efforts have also contributed to the reduction of 241,952 Cubic meters of wastewater per year while 153,175 cubic meters of water are saved per year.

Economically, $6,579,962 total savings were registered against $5,185,805 of investment since 2008, she said