45 Million Yogurt Cups, Sachets And Shampoo Released Monthly To Environment - CEJ

More than 45 million yogurt cups, sachets, shampoo packets were released per month to the environment without any recycling process, Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Hemantha Withanage said.

Some 90 per cent of people have no idea where their trash is ending and it is understood that 75 per cent of the people use 1-10 plastic bags weekly, a recent survey by the Centre for Environmental Justice reveals.
Sri Lanka is far behind taking actions to regulate single use plastics. The current government made an attempt to regularize the few single use plastic items here. However, this gazette has not been issued due to the pressure from big brand owners and the plastic manufacturers, Withanage who also senior environmental scientist told The Island.
Withanage said that the survey on polythene/ plastic usage of typical households in Sri Lanka with the participation of 200 households. It was conducted in Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy and Kurunegala. Majority (54%) of the participants are from Colombo District.
“We found that 40 % of the respondents goes to the market few times a day while 44 % do shopping weekly. Only 40% respondents carry own bag for shopping and 18% don’t carry own bag. Rest of the shoppers carry bags, sometimes, he said.
It is noticeable that 75% respondents use 1-10 polythene bags weekly. Also, it was reported that 57% dispose 1-10 disposable cups weekly. 75 % of the participants used less than 1 PET bottle per week.
He said it is a good sign that 82.7% responded that they separate plastic waste from other waste. 55% responded that they hand over the plastic waste to the tractor/lorry deployed by the municipality. However, 29% responded that they do open burning the waste. Only 6 % hand over their plastic waste for recycling whereas 7% bury their plastic waste in the garden. 90 % of the respondent had no idea where their trash end up once it is handed over to the municipality.
During 2019, CEJ collected 12,823 pieces of plastics from coastal areas in Sri Lanka during 12 Brand audits. It was found that, most plastic pieces had elephant house logo on it and Coca-Cola, Cargills, Nestle and Unilever were among top 5.
The corporate narrative that plastic pollution is a waste management issue caused by individual consumer is a false approach and it is time to make them responsible and take solid action. Corporations are trying to defend that PET bottles are not single use plastics is not correct. Although some plastic producers claim that all plastics can be recycles, only 2% plastic can be fully recycled and only 12% has recyclability including up scaling and down scaling. 88% plastic goes to the waste dumps and oceans. Waste to energy is a high polluting business and it’s not an environmentally sound solution in the climate change era.
CEJ recommend immediate banning single use plastics such as lunch sheets, shopping bags, sachets ,small plastic bottles and other selected items. Large Plastic bottles, Plastic containers, yogurt cups and other recyclable items need to collect hundred percent and recycle. Mandatory Extended producer responsibility is a must to resolve this issue. Meanwhile, moving Sri Lanka to a Zero waste society is the only way forward to bring an environmentally sound solution for current waste crisis