Polythene ban proposal to Cabinet next week

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The Ministry of Environment is planning to submit a Cabinet proposal regarding a complete ban on polythene bags by next week.

Ministry of Environment Private Secretary B.C. Wijerathna Iddamalgoda stated that the average large scale retailer supplies one billion polythene bags annually. 

“Currently, suppliers of polythene bags have not prepared an effective recycling mechanism to offset the pollution,” Iddamalgoda stated. 

It was also mentioned that conglomerate and large scale retailer Keells is one of the very few that has taken measures to protect the environment with reusable bags and has a mechanism to recycle plastic. 

Answers to plastic and polythene wastes
plastic Bottle Pollution

Iddamalgoda also mentioned that discussions have taken place with companies, at which the companies admitted that plastic bottle pollution is becoming a huge challenge. 

“We spoke to several businesses, and this is a challenge that they are facing as well; there is a huge disaster in terms of plastic pollution that will have a disastrous reaction in the future,” Iddamalgoda stated. 

“For recycling, they don’t have a mechanism. Small retailers also sell these bottles and they don’t provide a recycling method as well. When these companies send transport to recycling the cost to the company, that is why through this method, it is easier,” Iddamalgoda stated. 

The Environmental Ministry Private Secretary stated that these plastic products could have either been burned, eaten by fish, or still floating in the ocean. 

Referring to the recent MV X-Press Pearl incident, he stated: “We have collected 1,037 tonnes from the incident; the challenge is the plastic from the incident. The two leading plastic companies’ stock was in the incident, and two months of stock was lost. As these companies have a lot of stock, it is more likely that plastic pollution will rise,” Iddamalgoda commented.  

It was further noted that 1.7 million polythene sheets were used per day in Sri Lanka in 2010 as lunch sheets, according to statistics from the Environmental Ministry.

On the other hand, Iddamalgoda also stated the Environmental Ministry is working towards rewarding Rs. 10 for recycling 750 ml plastic bottles. This 750 ml bottle recycling project was proposed as there are insufficient alternatives to plastic bottles. 

Accordingly, similar programmes are underway, such as rewarding Rs. 5 for recycling plastic bottles smaller than 400 ml. It was highlighted that the Environmental Ministry is awaiting Cabinet approval for the next step. 

Established in 2010, Eco Spindles converts renewable resources into innovative products for a cleaner and greener planet. As of June 2021, Eco Spindles has recycled 380,160,017 bottles. 

The company’s aim is to reduce the carbon footprint in the world by using plastic waste to create high-grade yarn and filaments. The firm also holds the products as proof that a sustainable future is possible with the help of technology. 

Eco Spindles further prepares for the future by hosting several initiatives across Sri Lanka. The initiatives foster eco-awareness in the populace while creating a recycling infrastructure that will last for generations.

Plasticycle is a social entrepreneurship project by John Keells Group with an aim at reducing plastic pollution, through encouraging reduction in the use of single-use plastics, supporting responsible disposal and promoting recycling initiatives. 

The John Keells Group, acknowledging the fact that products and services provided by the Group also contribute to the plastic pollution problem, launched Plasticycle in July 2017, with a vision of being a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.

Presently, Plasticycle recycles plastic bottles including water, soft drinks, shampoo, edible oil and plastic cans, such as milk cans, sauce cans, and oil cans, along with plastic jars, tubs, and plastic lids. 

However, Plasticycle does not recycle plastic mixed with iron such as clothes hangers, and razors, toothbrushes, CDs, food wrappers, and plastic tubes (toothpaste and hair gel tubes).

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