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Sri Lanka businesses proposes alternatives to banning poor consumers’ “sachet packet”

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has proposed expanding a producer led collection program to manage waste plastic packaging pointing out that the food and non-food in affordable sizes are targeted at poorer segments of the population who cannot afford large quantities.

“According to the industry, around 50 percent of Sri Lanka’s consumers purchase products in smaller packaging sizes, where the choice is available,” the CCC said in a statement.

“This consumption trend is common among families who earn less than Rs.25,000 per month, families who are dependent on a daily wage, and individuals who use community facilities such as hostels and boarding.”

“Propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the flexible packaging industryhas seen unprecedented growth due to the increase in demand for both food and non-food products globally.

The CCC said the industry had proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to help collect and manage waste considering the importance of providing smaller and affordable packages sizes to the industry and consumers.

“EPR is a concept practiced globally where the responsibility of collecting, processing and recycling waste is undertaken by producers (brand owners, packaging suppliers, manufactures and retailers),” the Chamber said.

“Studies show that EPR helps reduce the burden of waste management on government authorities, and is practiced in countries like Indonesia, India and Japan to share the responsibility of recycling packaging waste.”

The program will reduce flexible packaging and build up recycling efforts.

Among measures being planned are the use of distribution system to collect used packaging, installing equipment to trap trash from canals and rivers and increasing the recyclability of packaging.

The producers will also help municipalities to segregate non-recyclable waste for power generation.

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In Sri Lanka a large share of plastic bottle are now collected through a network of small commercial collectors and voluntary efforts of some companies.

BPPL, a Sri Lanka based company recycles the plastic in to brushes and fabric for export, in an internationally pioneering effort.

“It is important that we retain smaller and affordable packaging sizes within the market as this allows consumers of different socio-economic groups to have access to products,” Manjula de Silva, the Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

“Smaller sizes and flexible packaging means that products can be sold at different price-points and give the end consumer, choice. We need to ensure that we look towards a sustainable alternative to the issues of plastic waste. EPR is one such alternative.”

In 2021 the target is to collect 25 percent of the packaging released to the market which will be increased to 100 percent.

“Industry partners have come forward to share the responsibility of managing the waste issues created by flexible packaging in the country,” de Silva said.

“Some have adopted tried and tested models and we are looking to help the industry reach these goals faster through synergy, collaboration and partnership.

“We expect companies that generate a larger amount of packaging waste to take the lead in solving this problem, while smaller companies catch up on these initiatives.”

The industry will set up an “Alliance for Sustainable Packaging” as a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) to manage flexible packaging. (Colombo/Mar22/2021)

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