Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said on Wednesday that the island nation will ban plastic shopping bags while it is facing a dengue epidemic and garbage crisis.
Senaratne said that the plan to ban the use of plastic bags, is as a result of a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena who is also the minister of environment.
He said the cabinet agreed to ban the use of polythene and Styrofoam which is used by local shops to wrap lunch and polythene shopping bags which is widely used in supermarkets and shops with immediate effect.
The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) also stated that the use, production, import and sale of lunch sheets would be banned under the new regulation.
The CEA added that burning of plastic bags in open areas was also prohibited.
“Shopping bags will be replaced with reusable cloth bags under the new law,’’ the CEA said.
Local media reports said the new law was introduced in an effort to reduce environmental damage brought about by the use of non-biodegradable plastic polythene items.
Sri Lanka has been facing a garbage crisis after a central garbage dump collapsed in April, killing over 30 people and burying an entire neighbourhood.
Sri Lankan soldiers dug through rubbish with their bare hands Saturday to pull out victims after a huge garbage mountain collapsed on their homes, killing at least 15 people.
Four children were among the dead following Friday’s incident at Kolonnawa on the northeastern edge of the capital, Colombo national hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa said.
The 300-foot (91-metre) high dump came crashing down on neighbouring homes Friday as the country marked the traditional new year.
Local residents have complained that piles of garbage have been left uncollected in the capital with the government vowing that it would clean up Colombo and its outskirts soon.
Report says Sri Lanka is also facing its worst ever dengue epidemic with over 225 patients killed and over 80,000 infected.