By Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana
The Excise Department will team up with the Central Environment Authority (CEA), liquor industry giants and local retailers to introduce a novel project to recycle millions of discarded alcohol bottles and cans that lead to severe environmental pollution every year.
The country’s sole liquor regulating authority announced this yesterday as a ‘pragmatic’ solution for the long felt issue of pollution caused by millions of empty alcohol bottles and cans which are being dumped and end up in the environs daily. The project will encourage retailers to buy back empty bottles and cans as well as consumers to return them for a higher deposit instead of dumping them haphazardly. Departmental Spokesman Deputy Excise Commissioner Kapila Kumarasinghe told the Daily Mirror the decision to introduce a new mechanism to collect and recycle empty bottles was taken in response to a number of complaints received from all quarters of society regarding the growing environmental pollution. He said discussions were held between the CEA, Excise as well as liquor industry members following the observations made on about 300 million empty bottles of various sizes and 160 million metal cans that are being discarded into the environment annually without a proper dumping mechanism. Presently, a deposit is retained for a selected set of liquor bottles by the retailers by adding it to the government authorized price of that particular bottle is sold at.
“If an X type of bottle is authorized to sell at Rs.1, 600, the retailers would sell it for Rs.1, 640 with an additional sum of Rs.40 added to the price as a deposit, which would be repaid to the customer upon the returning of the empty bottle. Under the new project this deposit would be increased to an attractive rate so the consumers are expected to return them instead of just throwing it away,” he explained.
“Also, a mechanism would be introduced to receive empty metal cans at retailers where they could crush it with newly installed crushers before reselling for scrap metal. The two beer manufacturing companies have already expressed their willingness to supply alcohol retailers with crushers for this purpose,” the Deputy Commissioner said. According to Excise Department statistics about 2, 900 retailers who sell alcoholic beverages countrywide will be absorbed into the new recycling project, which will be launched without any cost factor to the government.