The government has decided to implement the ban on high-density polythene (HDPE) from eptember 1 as earlier planned but punitive action against the production, sale and usage of such will be taken from January 1, 2018 onwards.
The violators of the ban will be fined Rs.10,000 and could be subjected to a two-year imprisonment term.
The period up to January 1, 2018 will be utilized to introduce alternatives and guide the polythene manufacturers, vendors and users towards them, Health Minister and Co-Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told reporters in Colombo yesterday.
He said a committee of officials comprising relevant state-run environmental agencies, Finance Ministry and Industry and Commerce Ministry would be appointed and will be tasked with this project.
The proposed ban will only apply to three HDPE products — lunch sheets, shopping bags and grocery bags. The government expects to extend the ban to other non-recyclable products in the future in phases.
However, the manufacturers of lunch sheets and shopping bags could still manufacture their products using low-density polythene (LDPE), which is considered to be less harmful to the environment than the HDPE products. About 80 percent of Sri Lanka’s annual polythene production is in HDPE, which is considered to be stronger and low cost and the rest 20 percent is in LDPE.
The polythene manufacturers are up in arms against the upcoming ban and maintain that it will eventually result in job losses to the tune of 345,000—a claim that the government officials say exaggerated.
Due to its high strength, HDPE is considered to be more harmful to environment than LDPE. Annually, the Lankan HDPE manufacturers produce around 40 million kilogrammes of HDPE polythene, which is valued at Rs.12.87 billion (US $ 84 million).
Sri Lanka does not have a proper system to manage polythene or plastic waste.
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