The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) has decided to amend the earlier imposed ban on sachet packets with a capacity of 20ml to include all sorts of sachet packets up to 100 ml, The Sunday Morning Business exclusively learns.
Speaking to us, CEA Director General Hemantha Jayasinghe stated the CEA is firm in its decision to increase the sachet ban capacity to 100ml from the initial ban capacity of 20ml, as several leading conglomerates have been producing Single-Use Plastic (SUP) sachet packets with a capacity of 24ml, following the implementation of the initial ban on 31 March, thereby circumventing the ban.
“We have finalised the decision along with the required documentation. The Gazette Notification will be out after the proposal is signed by the Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera,” Jayasinghe said.
Further, Jayasinghe said that due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation in Sri Lanka, the final decision might take some time to be announced, while adding that discussions are currently taking place with relevant stakeholders in this matter.
Continuous attempts to contact Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera to get more information regarding this topic proved futile.
CEA Waste Management Division Director Sarojini Jayasekara, speaking to The Sunday Morning Business also confirmed that necessary discussions are taking place with all officials involved in order to change the said capacity of banned sachet packets from 20ml to 100ml.
When asked about inflatable toys, cotton swabs, and other banned items still existing in the market, Jayasekara said that the CEA has given a validity period of three months for manufacturers and sellers to finish their existing sales and stocks.
“The importation and the manufacturing of inflatable toys have been stopped by all companies. However, due to the prevailing conditions in the country, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has granted three months to clear out stocks that were produced before the ban,” Jayasekara added.
Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera announced the ban on SUPs early this year, and introduced National Environmental (Plastic Material Identification Standards) Regulations No. 01 of 2021, under Section 32 of the National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980.
Meanwhile, speaking to us last month, CEA Chairman Siripala Amarasinghe had said that extensive discussions are taking place alongside the Environment Ministry to make a solid decision to stop the production of 24ml sachet packets, which could still have an impact on the environment.
“Legally, we cannot go to court, as it is above the net volume of 20ml. However, right now our Ministry, our legal division, and the Consumer Affairs Authority’s legal division are holding continuous discussions, the results of which will be announced within a few days. The imposed regulations may be altered,” Amarasinghe said.
The Sunday Morning Business also spoke to a leading conglomerate in Sri Lanka last month that started manufacturing sachet packets with a capacity of 24ml. A spokesperson stated that the company has always partnered with the Government whilst respecting the policies and laws of the country.
“We have discontinued manufacturing, importing, and selling sachets that fall within the purview of the gazette, with effect from 31 March 2021, to support the reduction of net plastic output produced,” the spokesperson assured.
Explaining further, the spokesperson stated that to abide by the regulations imposed, a combination of sustainable packaging solutions is required, and has been proposed.
“It involves a systematic, sustainable, and gradual transition of consumers to larger packs, while disposing of plastic waste responsibly. We have started with encouraging and incentivising consumers to buy larger packs and dispose of plastic waste responsibly through national communication programmes for some of our brands, and we have also developed other packaging formats that are currently being evaluated for consumer acceptance and environmental suitability,” the spokesperson elaborated.
The spokesperson added that the company 100% ensures that all its plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
“These sustainable solutions are able to minimise net plastic output that offers consumers the access to daily necessity products at an affordable price,” the spokesperson concluded.