Banning Plastic | Daily News


Banning Plastic

 How effective is the polythene ban?

It has been over 10 days since the use of polythene and plastic bags was banned, but there have been no visible alternatives available in the market for daily use. Many of the alternatives are manufactured on a very small scale and they have not received enough support to scale up production.

People who use lunch sheets and polythene bags for their daily use do have an option, they can start using lunch boxes and cloth bags, but small scale hotel and shop owners are finding it hard to switch to an alternative. They emphasized that bio degradable bags and lunch sheets should have been made available before the government imposed a ban on polythene bags.

Cabinet approval has been granted for the implementation of the long term, medium term and short term programme presented by the Experts’ Committee appointed for the preparation of a national policy and action plan for the proper management of polythene and plastics. The Committee also proposed to ban the use of polythene for all decorations including national, religious, social, cultural and political festivals.

No distributors to cater to the local market

Since the ban however, biodegradable plastic manufacturers such as Plastic Packaging Pvt Ltd have had more inquiries coming their way said its Chairman Mervyn Dias. He said most inquiries were on bio degradable lunch sheets and bags but the buyers ordered it for their own use and it was yet to reach the local market.

Dias has been exporting bio degradable polythene lunch sheets and bags for the past 10 years and he affirmed that it has not reached the local people as yet.

“People who place the order buy it for their personal or company usage. We do not have a chain of distributors to cater to island wide demand. But, some supermarkets have begun to use our products after the ban,” he said.

Dias said that people will start using them very soon and added that they are also looking for prospects to deliver it to the local market.

“Our products are certified by the Belgium Biodegradable Products Institute and we print their compostable logo in all our biodegradable and compostable products. This certification is awarded only if the product conforms to International Standards. The certification is given after carrying out several lab tests and the buyers should always look for the logo to assure the products they buy are truly biodegradable and compostable. Our products do not have polyethylene in them and it is 100 percent environmentally friendly and does not have any additive to stimulate decomposition. These bags biodegrade in 90-180 days depending on the composting method used,” he explained.

According to Dias, these products are not available in places like Pettah and other local markets. Common people and small scale hotel owners continue to complain that there are no alternatives for lunch sheets and polythene bags. They claim that even though the government has banned the usage they have not taken measures to provide alternatives.

Dias meanwhile said they use international standards to sell the products to the local market as well.

Compostable and biodegradable papers are manufactured with a globally certified compostable and biodegradable bio- resin. Dias also said that they are tested and certified at the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) in Sri Lanka and certified that there is no polythene in compostable bags and sheets.

He said that we should encourage whole sale distributors to cater to the whole island in order to increase the demand.

Hotel owners complain of having no option

Soon after the polythene ban was imposed, the government requested full support of the public to successfully confront the difficulties that may crop up during the transition period, but they have failed in their initiatives to provide alternatives for the banned items.

The government officials continue to make statements that during the next few months they would make sure that the alternatives to replace the banned items will be in the market, but the public are yet to see results, despite the never ending meetings that are being held with all stake holders.

R. Thilakaratne, a hotel owner from Maradana said he does not have an alternative but to use lunch sheets.

“Some customers refuse to eat on the plate without the lunch sheet. We would not mind using bio degradable lunch sheets, but one of my friends told me that it is very expensive. It costs double the price of normal lunch sheets. I cannot afford that. I can understand the issues pointed out by the government, on why we need to reduce the use of polythene and plastic. But we are so used to it and how can they simply ask us to stop using them?” he questioned.

Thilakaratne fears that if he stops using them without a proper alternative, he would lose his business.

Rangika Amaraweera, a hotel owner from Pettah said there are many issues that law makers do not understand, such as having to serve curries for takeaway orders.

“How are we going to deal with all these practical issues? If that’s the case, we will have to ask the customers to come with a lunch box to take away the food or bring their own plates to the restaurant if they do not like to use ours. Politicians will never understand the suffering of normal people,” he said.

M. N. Jayasekara, a mini super market owner from Wellawatte still uses polythene bags to give the goods customers purchase.

“Customers do not come here with cloth or paper bags. And my customers come to buy one or two items from the shop. There are only very few customers who buy things in bulk from me and I can ask them to bring a cloth bag, but how can I handle random people who come to my shop?” he asked.

Even though the government and the relevant officials claim that the polythene ban is in effect, no matter what, people still continue to use them.


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