Net polythene usage gone up after Sri Lanka's ban

(August 03, 2009 - Lanka Polity) A study in markets of Sri Lanka revealed that the laws introduced by the state since the beginning of 2007 to curtail the use of polythene had completely failed and it had caused rapid increase of net usage  this environmentally hazardous material. Although the manufacturing, sale and use of less than 20 micron thickness of polythene is illegal in Sri Lanka, they can be easily acquired from all the nooks and corners of the country including the IDP camps.

All the rhetoric of the then Minister of Environment Maithripala Sirisena to introduce alternates to 'shopping bags' led the country to nowhere and the packaging industry moved to use more polythene and plastic after the introduction of these regulations. Even the curd manufacturers that traditionally used earthen pots for packaging have begun to use plastic now.

Although there were around 300 polythene manufacturing factories by the time the laws were introduced, the number has escalated by tenfold within the two years of the implementation of laws, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources sources say.The Ministry lacks resources to monitor this expanded industry, they said.


  1. Despite the outcry by many anti-polythene groups, one single innovation in the 20th century which has done a great service to the mankind has been 'polythene'. To say that it is an envronmentally hazardous product is an over-statement. It was equally a bad move by the state to ban it if it contains less than 20 microns.
    Many are against polythene, and also repeat it like parrots, saying that it is not biodegradable. This is not true and polythene also decomposes like any other material, but takes a longer time than paper. But if somebody wants to see it for himself, bury polythene in the backyard along with steel, ceramic and glass and dig up after one year to see which one of these items has really decayed.
    Polythene has helped the mankind to save trees, carry water for long distances in arid or semi-desert lands, grow foods under hostile weather and climate conditions, keep blood or drugs safely for future use and many other services.
    The problem is not with polythene as a material, but mankind's failure to manage it properly. For more than two decades, I have put this wisdom into the heads of university students in Sri Lanka which prompted me to write the little essay in my Economic Wisdom for Babies under the title 'Use a Polythene Bag and Save a Tree'.


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