“Around 5,475 million lunch sheets are released into our environment every year without any recycling process and these non-perishable lunch sheets made of polythene have caused a great environmental damage as well as an adverse impact on human and animal health,” Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera, said while quoting facts found by the CEA. The Minister said that lunch sheets which are haphazardly released into the environment by the millions every year takes about 100-200 years to decompose. “Although decomposed, they attach to the soil as micro-plastic particles and eventually enter the human body through food and water,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that all this polythene and plastic eventually add up to drinking water sources and the ocean and according to the 2020 Environmental Audit Report, 65,000 kms of the Dead Sea in the Bay of Bengal offshore Sri Lanka is being created by the addition of these plastics and polythene to the ocean.
“Therefore, in 2017 former President and Minister of Environment Maithripala Sirisena had issued a gazette notification banning lunch sheets. But, the manufacturers and sales organizations as well as the public were not interested in enforcing the ban. Later this year after discussions with the relevant authorities we decided to ban the production again,” the Minister said. Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment has decided to implement a ban on lunch sheets made from non-perishable polythene from August 1 this year.
Minister Amaraweera said whatever the obstacles are, the lunch sheet ban will be implemented for the sake of environmental protection as well as public health security in our country.
He said this decision can never be implemented by the Government alone and it needs the support of all sections of the country, including the public. The Minister further stated that if anyone manufactures, distributes or sells lunch sheets made of polythene, the fine will be increased tenfold and all equipment used for this purpose will be confiscated.
The Minister also requested the support of all sections to support this decision taken to protect the future generation of our country.