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Sectoral Oversight Committee Paves the Way for Plastic Reduction and Recycling

Under the guidance of Parliamentarian Ajith Mannapperuma, the Sectoral Oversight Committee (SOC) on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainable Development recently convened to address pressing concerns regarding the reduction of plastic and polythene usage, along with strategies for enhancing recycling processes in Sri Lanka.

Representatives from key government bodies—the Environment Ministry, Central Environment Authority, Sri Lanka Customs, and Agricultural Development Department—were summoned before the committee for deliberations.

A substantial portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the detrimental environmental impact of lunch sheets commonly used in the country and the adverse effects of phthalates, identified as carcinogens, on human health. Consequently, the SOC on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainable Development has recommended to the Central Environment Authority a phased ban on lunch sheets, allowing a six-month grace period to phase them out and introduce viable alternatives. Officials emphasized that no other country in the world uses lunch sheets, underscoring their significance in urging against their use.

Furthermore, proposed amendments to the Environment Act were thoroughly reviewed by the committee. Specific measures were suggested to curtail the use of polythene and plastic.

A notable recommendation involves assigning responsibility for the collection of plastic bottles for recycling to their producers and distributors. Officials highlighted plans to implement a system, potentially utilizing QR codes and new technology, to track the collection and inclusion of plastic bottles in the recycling process. The committee stressed the importance of incentivizing the return of empty bottles to enhance the efficiency of recycling efforts.

Additionally, the committee chair instructed officials to compile a report identifying single-use plastic equipment and materials currently imported into Sri Lanka. This report aims to scrutinize and enumerate these items, fostering a better understanding of the landscape. Members of Parliament Jayantha Ketagoda, Dr. Thilak Rajapakshe, Waruna Liyanage, alongside representatives from the Environment Ministry, Central Environment Authority, and Sri Lanka Customs, were all present during this pivotal committee session.

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