Rwanda’s glass bottle demand ramps up amid plastic phase-out

Inyange Industries’ glass bottles are mainly used in conferences in Kigali. All photos: Craish Bahizi

As glass bottle demand is set to rise to 24,179 tonnes in 2027, Rwanda is accelerating efforts to attract potential investors for the “establishment of a factory to produce glass bottles” to satisfy the growing demand, instead of relying only on imports, The New Times has learnt.

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Information obtained from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) shows that demand for glass bottles increased from 19,530 tonnes in 2022 to 21,816 tonnes in 2023.

The increase is a result of a law prohibiting the manufacturing, importation, use, and sale of single-use plastic bottles in Rwanda, which Rwanda passed in 2019.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, demand for glass bottles increased from 19,530 tonnes in 2022, to 21,816 tonnes in 2023.

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According to projections, the demand for glass bottles will increase to 22,056 tonnes in 2024 and 22,104 tonnes in 2025. In 2026, the demand is expected to rise to 23,466 tonnes, and 24,179 tonnes in 2027.

Fred Mugabe, Director General of Industry Promotion at the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Rwanda, informed The New Times that the increased need for glass bottles was prompted by the prohibition of plastic bottles for packaging alcoholic beverages, emphasizing the growth of agro-processing industries, particularly in beverages—both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

He explained that attracting potential investors for the establishment of a factory to produce glass bottles is part of the packaging strategy to be implemented up to 2027.

“Efforts to attract potential investors are still underway,” he said, explaining that the investor has not yet been secured.

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According to the strategy implementation timeframe, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Rwanda Development Board expect to secure an investor to manufacture glass bottles by 2024. “We need the investors as soon as possible,” Mugabe noted.

Developing incentives like a special electricity tariff for glass manufacturing is also expected.


Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, reiterated the need for a glass bottles manufacturing plant, pointing out that some investors have submitted files to the Rwanda Development Board which has details about the progress. RDB has yet to provide information about the progress of securing an investor for glass manufacturing.

Availability of glass manufacturing raw materials

According to the feasibility study for a glass manufacturing plant in Rwanda done by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the production of glass requires sufficient availability of raw materials such as quartz sand, dolomite, limestone, soda ash, feldspar, and saltcak.

The study shows that Rwanda has vast reserves of quartz sand, dolomite, and limestone for developing a glass industry. Total quartz sand reserves are estimated at over 73 million tonnes.

“These reserves are enough for more than roughly 700 years of both productions. It’s available in Kirehe District with very high-quality sand deposits suitable for glass production,” the trade and industry ministry assured in a six-year packaging strategy.

According to RDB, there is a need for private sector investment and sand mining concessions. This includes $85 million for manufacturing container glass and $150 million for manufacturing flat glass.

Container glass is a type of glass for the production of glass containers, such as bottles, jars (wide-mouthed cylindrical containers made of glass), and drinkware (glasses, cups, and other containers used for holding drinks).

Flat glass is a type of glass, initially produced in plane form, commonly used for windows, glass doors, transparent walls, and windscreens.

Current prices could be reduced by 30 per cent if such kind of manufacturing is introduced, the study shows.

There is a need to manufacture 220 metric tonnes of container glass and 400 metric tonnes of flat glass annually.

Limestone, and dolomite deposits

The deposits of limestone in Rwanda are scattered in Northern and Western provinces with more concentration in the Northern region, according to the trade and industry ministry.

Total limestone resources are estimated at 7.2 million tonnes, which is enough for 475 years of the project’s operation.

Rwanda also has significant reserves of dolomite estimated at 2.4 million tonnes, which is sufficient for roughly 80 years of operation.

However, soda ash, feldspar, and salt cake will have to be imported to Rwanda.

A potential origin is Tanzania which is one of the largest world soda ash producers as well as feldspar and salt cake reserves.

“Glass packaging in Rwanda is in growing demand and is forecasted to continue growing as Rwanda encourages this type of packaging over plastic because of compliance with standards and environmental laws,” reads part of the six-year packaging strategy.

The implementation cost of the packaging strategy was estimated at $1,714,500.



Michel Nkurunziza

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