While there is great environmental damage to the country, the Environment Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera, advised the ministry officials to take steps to ban all types of lunch wrapping sheets in the country without publishing a new gazette notification.
The decision was made by the Minister yesterday, after taking into account all steps that the Ministry had taken in the past to prohibit the use of lunch sheets.
On the earlier decision, the lunch sheet manufacturing companies have stated that they would take steps to introduce biodegradable material which would decay fast, but until now they did not honour it properly, the Minister said.
Hence, the decision was taken yesterday during a meeting at the Ministry with the Ministry Secretary and and officials from several institutions, including the Central Environmental Authority.
"Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is the only country that still uses lunch wrapping sheets. "The four major companies in the country manufacture seven to eight tons of lunch sheets per month. Annually, nearly 106 tons of lunch sheets are used, as per statistics. It is estimated that more than 10 million lunch sheets are discharged into the country's environment each day. It will take at least two to three years to decay. "It has been scientifically proven that the micro-plastic particles that accumulate in the soil as a result of lunch sheets last for more than 200 years," said Minister Amaraweera.
Therefore, the companies concerned have already been advised to introduce alternatives to lunch wrapping sheets, but they have not taken any action as yet. Also, it is very difficult to get accurate information about lunch sheets manufactured in this country as some companies are trying to develop them through moulding machines and done as a cottage industry, Minister Amaraweera said.
Meanwhile, former President Maithripala Sirisena, had also taken steps to ban lunch sheets, but some companies had stated that they would take steps to introduce biodegradable material, which would soon decay, but it was not done as agreed, Minister Amaraweera added. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)