Old and new ideas help to shove poly­thene fur­ther into ex­ile

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS - By Chris­han­thi Christo­pher

More in­di­vid­ual and pri­vate ini­tia­tives con­tinue to see the light of day in the wake of the Septem­ber ban on poly­thene in the coun­try.

Housewives are mak­ing fab­ric bags, small ven­dors are mak­ing pa­per bags by them­selves as in the days gone by be­fore the poly­thene men­ace took hold, and the ba­nana leaf has got a new lease of life with ways found to store them.

But at the same time, a type of bag handed out by some su­per­mar­kets, has been de­clared non-com­pli­ant by the en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tor.

The Cen­tral En­vi­ron­men­tal Au­thor­ity’s di­rec­tor gen­eral of solid waste man­age­ment, J M U In­draratne, said that the shop­ping bags are not made of light den­sity poly­eth­yl­ene but a mix­ture of 75% high den­sity and 25% low den­sity poly­eth­yl­ene.

In­draratne said that su­per­mar­kets in­clud­ing Keels, Ar­pico, Laugfs, Ran­janas, and Sathosa, have been told that the bags do not con­form to CEA speci­fica- tions on com­posta­bil­ity and biodegrad­abil­ity.

While agree­ing to the rul­ing, the su­per­mar­kets have asked for time to use up ex­ist­ing stock of poly­thene bags.

The CEA said that the poly­thene ban will not come into ef­fect un­til Jan­uary 1, 2018.

At the Panagoda base, the Sri Lanka Army has started to use ba­nana leaves in the mess in­stead of the lunch sheets.

Bud­ded ba­nana plants are be­ing prop­a­gated on land that be­longs to the army. A bud­ded ba­nana plant is said to ma­ture in four months. Ar­range­ments are be­ing made to take the idea to Diy­ata­lawa, Mul­laitivu, Kan­dakadu, Kot­ti­gala, Kan­tale, Ekala, and Am­balan­goda.

The ba­nana leaves are cured and kept un­der re­frig­er­a­tion for a min­i­mum of three months.

The agri­cul­tural di­rec­torate of the army said that cured ba­nana leaf is used by about 95,000 sol­diers at Panagoda.

Ma­jor Thushara Per­era, said that there are plans to pro­duce ba­nana leaves on a com­mer­cial scale.

Mean­while, a pri­vate com­pany man­u­fac­tur­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly bags has made a starch bag.

Al­ready a lead­ing su­per­mar­ket is sell­ing them for Rs 1.50 each. The cost is Rs 2.50, the com­pany says. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, the bags had been cer­ti­fied by Bel­gium’s Vin­cotte Bel­gie, a test­ing com­pany. It is not known what it was tested for.

Also the same com­pany is sell­ing, what it claims to be are, bio-degrad­able and com­postable lunch sheets at Rs 2.60 each. The su­per­mar­kets are sell­ing lunch sheets at Rs. 360 for 100 sheets.

A se­nior re­searcher from the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Fun­da­men­tal Stud­ies, said that man­u­fac­tur­ers of poly­thene should find new ma­te­ri­als that are com­postable and biodegrad­able.

Dr Gamini Senevi­ratne, said there are al­ter­na­tives in­clud­ing starch and cel­lu­lose ma­te­rial.

Pic by Sameera Weerasek­era

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