ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 43

Polythene deadlock as deadline nears

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Three months have passed after the ban on thin polythene, making March 31 the final day for the public to use thin polythene, but with thicker polythene replacing the thin variety no proper eco-friendly alternatives are in the market.

Authorities have not yet implemented appropriate methods to look into eco-friendly alternatives like paper, jute, rattan, hemp, cane, cotton, banana, coconut and palmyra leaves. Meanwhile consumers complain that prices of eco-friendly products were high and unaffordable.Central Environmental Authority Hazardous Waste Management Director Jayawilal Fernando said the ban on thin polythene was not to encourage the public to use thicker polythene.

Officials inspecting polythene material used in a shop

“We expect to solve the problem in a broader manner, like encouraging the 3 R concept (reduce, re-use and re-cycle) while encouraging the use of eco-friendly products. The CEA would also encourage supermarkets to be involved in the process of educating the public to use eco-friendly alternatives and discourage the use of polythene products,” he said.

“I agree that the prices of eco-friendly products are expensive as they are few in the market. The cheaper solutions are a bit challenging,” he said.

According to Mr. Fernando, the Treasury has granted Rs. 51 million to bring about solutions to the polythene problem.The CEA is hoping to open a kiosk within its premises to accept recyclable materials and eco- friendly products.

A committee headed by the Environment Ministry Secretary has been appointed to look into possible alternatives for polythene.
Laksala Sales Division officer O.P. Jayaratne said that as thicker polythene prices were low compared to those of eco-friendly products, the public prefer to purchase thicker polythene instead of shifting to eco-friendly alternatives.

“Laksala has come up with alternatives made of thick paper, palm and coconut leaves and cloth, but people still use the thick polythene instead of turning to eco-friendly products” he said. Bakery owners have opted to use thicker paper bags to pack bread and it has had a positive impact on the use of eco-friendly substances replacing polythene.

Making eco-friendly products is expected to be a good self-employment avenue for women after a period of training.

Creating a competitive market for eco-friendly goods is one of the main tasks of the officers who implemented the polythene ban.

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.