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Plastic pollution on Sri Lankan beaches drop by 40-pct in first quarter: expert

Sri Lanka’s east coast has its peak tourism season from May through September

ECONOMYNEXT – Plastic pollution on the beaches and seas around Sri Lanka has been reduced by 40% in the first four months of 2020 when compared to last year, Marine Environment Protection Authority General Manager Dr P B Terney Pradeep Kumara said.

Dr Kumara told EconomyNext  that the dramatic drop could be due to a number of factors.

“One reason could be the lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the other reason could be the lack of rainfall which results in low flow from rivers to the sea,” he said.

Sri Lanka was ranked among the top five marine plastic polluters of the world by earthday.org in 2019 with a mismanaged plastic waste of 1.59 million metric tons per year (MMT/year).

According to National Geographic, plastic pollution is most visible in developing Asian and African nations, where garbage collection systems are often inefficient or nonexistent. But the developed world, especially in countries with low recycling rates, also has trouble properly collecting discarded plastics.

Millions of animals are killed by plastic every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.

However, The Wall Street Journal said the war on plastics is being put on hold as the battle to contain the novel coronavirus ramps up.

Major chains such as Starbucks Corp and Pacific Coffee have stopped filling customers’ reusable cups and encouraged single-use plastic products in efforts to stop the spread of the virus, a U-turn after years of encouraging the bring-your-own cup/mug programme.

This has resulted in personal drinking cups and reusable shopping bags being shunned, while sales of bottled water, masks and wipes made from plastic have soared.

At the same time, some recycling programs are also being suspended because of concerns about the virus spreading. (Colombo/Apr22/2020)

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