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Polythene ban comes into effect

The importation, manufacturing and wholesale trade of shopping bags and lunch sheets was strictly banned islandwide from yesterday, Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Deputy Director General Upali Indraratne said.

Speaking to Daily News, Indraratne however clarified that the CEA does not intend to take stringent action at this point on ordinary people who use the banned polythene items.

“First we will fully concentrate on prohibiting the imports, manufacturing and distribution of those items. The available stocks will gradually phase out by another month or two. Then we will gradually start raids. There are provisions to impose a jail sentence of not more than two years and a fine not exceeding Rs 10,000 to an offender who contravenes this environmental law,” he said.

Indrarante stressed the polythene manufacturers are legally bound to stop manufacturing all the banned polythene and plastic items from yesterday, adding that the environmental law would be fully implemented against the offenders. “We have about 500 regional officers working in our 25 district offices. They will monitor the manufacturing plants and distribution aims in their respective areas,” he added.

Asked about replacements available in the market for shopping bags, Indraratne observed it would not be an issue at all, adding that ample other Eco-friendly products such as paper bags, reusable cloth bags, canvass bags, mesh bags, etc are there to take the place of shopping bags. “Replacements for lunch sheets are limited, but a bio-degradable sheet is available in the market. The price of a lunch sheet is Rs 1.70 where as the price of this bio-degradable sheet is Rs 4-4.50. However, the prices may come down when the demand increases,” Indraratne pointed out.

Indraratne, while accepting that it is not practical to enforce this law over night, however stressed there is no need whatsoever to reverse this “important national decision.”