By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Sri Lanka this week called on more local businesses to embrace the concept of chemical leasing as the global goal to minimise adverse impacts of chemicals and waste will not be achieved by 2020 despite the availability of solutions.
UNIDO pointed out that more ambitious worldwide action is urgently required from all stakeholders and Sri Lanka too is expected to play its part by expediting the uptake of chemical leasing.
“We (Sri Lanka) need factories and businesses that are more productive and responsible when it comes to chemical usage.
Treaties address some chemicals and issues of global concern, but implementation challenges remain. And for that more streamlined efforts and collective action is mandatory, specifically on chemical leasing,” UNIDO Representative, Regional Office in India, Rene Van Berkel told a forum in Colombo. Although global agreements have been reached at several high-level United Nations (UN) conferences and significant action has already been taken, Berkel pointed out that sound management of chemicals and waste will not be achieved within the set time frame as trends indicate otherwise.
A UN environment report on the global chemical outlook released this year pointed out that as of 2018, more than 120 countries had not implemented the ‘Globally Harmonised System of Classification and labelling of Chemicals’.
Pushing the chemical leasing agenda in Sri Lanka, UNIDO highlighted that the approach is a new and innovative model to ensure sustainable management of chemicals to reduce contamination by pesticides.
The chemical leasing approach is a service-oriented business model that shifts the focus from increasing the volume of chemical sales towards a sustainable and
According to UNIDO, the approach incentivises the producer to sell the functions performed by the chemical while the customer pays for the benefits and not for the substance itself. In Sri Lanka, current chemical production is about 1.8 percent of GDP and 4.2 percent of the total exports. The chemical leasing model has been introduced to the agriculture, printing, building paint, waste water treatment and the apparel sectors.
Minister of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment Daya Gamage acknowledged that despite the government having put in place regulations and legislation to reduce the amount of chemicals used and the chemical waste produced, chemical related hazards are still a common occurrence.
“Tackling these issues is a must but a number of issues exist in the current system of management that needs to be resolved. Lack of awareness amongst stakeholders, particularly the SME industries, is one of the major concerns that requires urgent attention,” he said.
Common challenges faced by Sri Lanka in addressing sustainable chemical management is the non-registration of chemicals, using chemicals for purposes other than what it is specified for, lack of awareness and expertise on handling certain chemicals, and improper disposal, amongst others. However, the major challenge in ensuring sustainable management according to the National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC), Sri Lanka, is the lack of sufficient chemical management policy and regulations in the country.
Sri Lanka was amongst the six countries to join the Global Chemical Leasing Declaration 2018. Joining the declaration were Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Colombia, and Siberia, alongside Sri Lanka.
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