The use of polythene, which had become a threat and a nuisance to the country, is considerably less now. This is the result of a ban imposed on the production, sale and consumption of selected polythene items like grocery bags, shopping bags, lunch sheets and regiform lunch boxes from September 1, 2017. This ban came into effect from January 1, 2018. Although, at the beginning, the general public and polythene manufacturers found it difficult to adapt themselves to the conditions imposed by the Central Environment Authority(CEA), they gradually cooperated with the ban.
The ban was initially not fully implemented due to the agitation from the community, largely polythene manufactures. They claimed that they could not fall in line with new guidelines when using polythene in the country. It’s also fitting to note that the CEA has used all its tricks to promulgate the ban on polythene. It seems that all the hard work of the CEA and the Government, has produced results. There is a substantial decline in the consumption of polythene by the society.
Director of Waste Management at Central Environment Authority (CEA) Ajith Weerasundara told the Daily Mirror that the attempt to restrict the use of selected banned items had become successful thanks to President Maithripala Sirisena, polythene manufactures, general public and the crew at the CEA.
“Once we ban the production and consumption of selected polythene items, it is important to raid the places where such banned items are still sold. Therefore, the raids on the production of banned polythene items were commenced from Pettah on January 1, 2018 with the assistance of the Police. Accordingly, the CEA has conducted more than 770 raids islandwide since January,” Weerasundara said.
The way the Government approached the issue and found solutions should be appreciated. We see that there is a drastic change in the society in the consuming of polythene items Jagath Gunawardena
Weerasundara told the Daily Mirror that Budget 2018 had proposed to offer a total tax relief when importing machines and raw-materials from abroad to produce biodegradable products. The authorities had also proposed that the Government bear 50% of the cost that needs to be incurred when transforming the existing polythene manufacturing machines to the production of biodegradable items.
Nevertheless, he said that the Budget had also proposed to introduce a loan scheme through Divisional Development Banks for new entrepreneurs in order to motivate them to produce biodegradable polythene items with material like banana leafs, reeds and coir materials etc.
“In order to obtain the mentioned concessions, the biodegradable polythene manufactures are supposed to register with the CEA,” he added.
It is not easy to ban something to which people have been accustomed to. The decision by the CEA itself to ban some selected polythene items, is commendable and effective. Besides, people have shown much enthusiasm in adapting to proposed polythene alternatives after considering the fact that the banned polythene items are harmful and not environment friendly.
Speaking with the Daily Mirror, Environmental lawyer and Attorney-at-law Jagath Gunawardena told that a substantial decline could be observed in the society in terms of the consumption of banned polythene items thanks to the alternatives introduced by the CEA.
“The reason behind the success of the move was that they were very keen on introducing substitutes unlike last time when they banned some polythene items. The way the Government approached the issue and found solutions should be appreciated. As the outcome, we see that there is a drastic change in the society in the consuming of polythene items,” Gunawardena said.
In order to obtain the mentioned concessions, the biodegradable polythene manufactures are supposed to register with the CEA Ajith Weerasundara
“It is notable that an issue like the ban of polythene can only be done by changing the mindset of the general public. Otherwise, it would not be effective in the long-run. As it is visible, I feel that the mindset of the people has changed to a certain extent and it is observed that the use of banned polythene items has considerably declined,” he added.
He further said that it was important to maintain the trend of consuming biodegradable items in the long-run too so that an environment friendly atmosphere could be established in the society.
We have also got positive feedback from the general public on the Government’s move to ban polythene. At the same time, people have shown huge interest in adapting themselves to new polythene items made of by materials like oil papers, wax paper bags and sugarcane.
The Chairman of All Ceylon Polythene Manufacturers and Recyclers Association (ACPMRA) Anura Wijetunge when contacted said that although there was a decline in the usage of the banned polythene items, the ban on lunch sheets is not observed properly.
“We still find many shops filled with banned lunch sheets and hardly find shops using biodegradable lunch sheets. Lunch sheets are severely harmful to nature and the survival of human beings. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to take stringent actions against wholesalers who still attempt to sell banned lunch sheets,” Wijetunge said.
Therefore, it is absolutely essential to take stringent actions against wholesalers who still attempt to sell banned lunch sheets Anura Wijethunga
“We as the polythene manufactures’ association supported the move to ban selected polythene items irrespective of the initial loss that had to be incurred, because of the environmental menace caused due to the use of polythene. However, we have observed that the CEA is not as active as when the ban was initially imposed. We noticed a monotonous approach by the CEA in the way they have taken legal steps against the possession of banned polythene items. However, we suggest that the Government should take strict action against illegal polythene manufactures,” Wijetunge added.
He further said that they would not hesitate to register with the CEA and had already informed their other polythene manufactures to register with the CEA in order to obtain the respective concessions that the Government had promised to grant manufacturers of biodegradable polythene products.
It is the duty of the general public to co-operate with the state officials to do away with the usage of polythene, which is highly harmful to the human being. As it is evident, the Government has taken measures to undertake the elimination of polythene from the society. It can’t be done overnight. We have to wait and see how the efforts of the Government would bear fruit.