Polythene ban | Sunday Observer

Polythene ban

Pic Saman Mendis
Pic Saman Mendis

There was mixed reaction to the polythene ban which came in to effect from January 1 2018. While consumers look for more options the producers of polythene and plastic materials said that the ban is not a good decision as there is no proper mechanism for alternatives or for the recycling process.

Emphasizing on the importance of a proper collection mechanism, a packaging product manufacturer said that Sri Lanka has to establish an effective collection mechanism and the segregation of garbage for re-cycling is essential.

“People are concerned about their health. Food items such as eatables (short-eats) need packaging. However, the packaging cost in Sri Lanka is high. Though it is high, some products essentially need packaging. The government needs to implement and improve a collection mechanism in order to ensure a clean and green environment,” he said.

Plastics are not banned in other countries. They encourage the use of recyclable plastics for daily needs. The plastics which are recyclable are better. However, the three banned items of polythene and plastics can not be re-cycled economically and the ban is useful, he said.

“Polythene product manufacturers now use bio-degradable material. They produce lunch sheets also in this manner. However, there is no standard for bio-degradable material in Sri Lanka. This will become another issue in the country in the near future. The bio-degradable addictives are costly. Therefore, producers tend to use less and less amounts of addictives and this would lead to less effectiveness of degradable material,” he said.

“The shopping bags which were banned by the government were the cheapest available in the market. The bags were useful and could carry a substantial amount of weight as they had a high strength. The bags that are in use at present can not be used to carry a lot of weight. However, the government’s concern is the environment. Therefore, the ban has come in to effect from January,” Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging General Secretary Upul Abeywardena said.

“We are of the opinion that there should be some kind of mechanism to re-cycle the polythene and plastic waste. A proper mechanism should have been in place before the ban was imposed. There is also the price factor in the newly introduced packaging materials. The consumer will have to pay all the additional costs involved,”he said.

The government should have managed the polythene and plastic issue with a different approach. The regulatory mechanism is a not a success story as it cost the consumers more. We are not in favour of this move and feel that this is not a good decision. The collecting and recycling of garbage including polythene and plastics have become an issue due to the indisciplined nature of our people. This should have been addressed first and the laws should have followed,” Abeywardena said.

“What are the measures the government is planning to take with regard to the people who have lost production, employment and earnings? There are a huge number of workers who suffered due to this ban and the government should take positive measures to mitigate the situation,” he said.

“We accept the situation and follow the ban. However, there is no way to check the density of the polythene materials that are in use. Therefore. It is not clear that the materials in use are of low density polythene. There is no solution and the only thing that we are certain is that high density polythene ban is in effect,” Packaging Development Centre President Dharmathilake Rathnayake said.