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Friday August 19th, 2022

Sri Lanka to raid lunch sheet sellers, outlaw plastic garlands

Large scale 5000Kg PET Plastic Collection Hut at the Negombo Harbour


ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will enforce a ban on ‘lunch sheets’ a thin plastic sheet that is laid on plates of food and is used to tie food packets, ban the imports of machines that produce them, and seize any in the country, a top official said while plastic garlands will be outlawed soon

The ban dated back to 2017 but was not strictly implemented.

“There is no need for a gazette because this was earlier banned in 2017; ban in the sense degradable polythene lunch sheets were allowed but the issue was people started producing polythene lunch sheets domestically,” Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment told EconomyNext.

“In terms of raids, it will take place everywhere from shops to boutiques and we will stop importing these machines as well. It is a small machine.”

Previous enforcement was not aggressive enough and it was difficult because of cottage industries, but there are also big companies, he said

Sri Lanka’s Central Environment Authority officers will conduct raids from August 01, either on their own with police support to seize lunch sheets.

“There is nothing new in this lunch sheet ban, we are reimplementing whatever that was implemented in 2017,” Jasinghe said.

In terms of alternatives, Jasinghe added that

Several alternatives are already present in the market but polythene lunch sheets were the cheapest.

“Before polythene came into being we managed, nowadays people live in their comfort zones, that’s the reason”, Jasinghe said.

Sri Lanka follows the global waste management formula of 3Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle.

“Even to recycle, lunch sheets cannot be collected like PET bottles,” Jasinghe said.

“Alternatives will not come up without enforcement, so when you don’t have it people will find new ways.”

He says people used bananas and lotus leaves to wrap food before.

Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera had previously said that there are eight alternatives identified for lunch sheets.

When asked what those Jasinghe are said,

“There are not only eight but simply we can use bio-degradable products, banana leaves, lotus leaves, containers, etc., they are not officially identified as such. But we can see there are about eight alternatives at present.”

Minister Amaraweera has claimed that every day 12-15 million non-perishable lunch sheets are added to the environment while at least 1 percent of lunch sheets used are not recycled and more than 99 percent are thrown into the environment.

Biodegradable lunch sheets are a little expensive but the ministry had discussions with the manufacturer, the minister said.

And according to media reports, eight companies have joined in to produce biodegradable lunch sheets.

The other waste management issue Sri Lanka is handling is the yogurt cups.

Minister Amaraweera said earlier this week that yogurt cups will not be banned because there is no alternative in the market yet and if they are banned the dairy sector will be badly hit.

Sri Lanka discards 100 tons of used plastic yogurt cups each year of which only seven percent are recycled.

About 45 million yogurt cups and similar containers are dumped into the environment every month, the minister had said.

“Yogurt cups are hard to collect, they are dumped with remaining yogurt and the tin foil on, and when the foil is on it’s hard for collectors. They want uniform products,” Jasinghe explained.

“We support collectors and recyclers so with more support they will be able to do it too.”

At one time, yogurt cups came with plastic lids.

In a bygone era, ‘Milk Board’ yogurt came in wax cardboard cups with cardboard top, older persons who remember told EconomyNext.

Other products that will be banned include string hopper trays, polythene garlands, plastic spoons, saucers, plates, forks, and cups.

“Plastic cups and saucers are often used for picnics, the alternative for these products are paper products and wooden cutlery or the people can always carry one from home,” Jasinghe said.

“For string hopper trays the alternative was already used and is in the market ‘batapathuru’ trays.

Polythene garlands are used in temples a lot.

Jasinghe said the divisional secretary of Kataragama where a prominent temple is, conducted a workshop for garland makers in that city on how to make garlands out of flowers such as Araliya and nurseries have also been started there.

“If you ask people not to do they will listen, so we will have to take it away,” Jasinghe said.

These will be banned on January 01, 2022, with a gazette notification, and from now onwards they can find alternatives thereby we will not affect their business too,”

“So we are giving enough grace period and on the other hand we have been misusing plastic from the 70s so why we can wait for a few months then everything will be transparent.”(Colombo/Jul29/2021)



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Sri Lanka guidance peg edges T-bond yield edge down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions edged down on Friday (19), while yields in Treasury bonds picked up slightly and in T-bill remain unquoted in dull trade, a day after the Central Bank announced the policy rates will remain stable, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at 27.95/28.05 percent on Friday, slightly up from 27.90/28.00 percent on Thursday.

No T-bills were quoted on Friday, dealers said.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions further weakened by three cents to 361.00 rupees against the US dollar on Friday from 360.97 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 368.00 and 370.00 for small transactions.  (Colombo/ Aug 19/2022)

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Sri Lanka records 10 new COVID-19 deaths in 48 hours as case numbers rise

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka recorded 10 COVID-19 deaths in the 48 hours from August 17 to 19 taking the country’s pandemic death toll to 16,640, health ministry data showed.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a slight increase in COVID-19 cases with the relaxation of public health restrictions relating to face masks and public gatherings.

Health authorities said the situation will be monitored constantly and have asked the general public to continue to follow basic hygiene measures in order to control the spread of the virus again in the community.

In August alone 2,924 new cases were recorded in Sri Lanka, with 84 deaths attributed to the disease.

So far in 2022, from January onward, health authorities have identified 81,157 patients to date.

Epidemiology unit data showed that 874 patients are currently receiving treatment, out of which 716 are receiving home based care.

The spread of the virus has increased with the use of public transport rising after an easing of a fuel crisis.

Sri Lanka is also facing difficulties in securing essential medicine supplies for the health sector due to a forex shortage.

Health officials said if the number of COVID-19 patients rise to a level the health sector cannot manage,  with the added issues of fuel and medical shortages, the health system might collapse.

“It is the responsibility of us all. There is no use trying to forcibly control people. We all have the responsibility to reduce or stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of control. We have been living with it for the past two years,” Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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Sri Lanka stocks gain as market consolidates after profit taking

Stock market information

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks gained on Friday for the second session, with the market continues to stabilize after profit taking in two session early this week, dealers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) rose 0.73% or 65.18 points to 8,975.57, on Friday. It hit more than four-month high before falling mainly on profit taking after it gained nearly 2,000 points in 12 straight sessions through Monday.

Analysts said the buying interest in energy sector and plantation-related stocks still continuing after investors have shifted from top liquid shares, analysts said.

The market generated 3.1 billion rupees in turnover, nearly equal to this year’s average daily turnover of 3.13 billion rupees. On Thursday, the turnover slumped to more than two-week low.

Sri Lanka has already declared sovereign debt default on April 12 this year and failed to pay its first sovereign debt in May amid a deepening economic crisis which later turned into a political crisis and led to a change in the president, cabinet, and government.

The more liquid S&P SL20 index ended 0.05% or 1.62 points up at 2,963.95.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst fuel and economic crisis in its post-independence era and the economy is expected to contract more than 8 percent this year.

The main ASPI gained 16.1 percent in August so far after gaining 5.3 percent in July. It lost 9.3 percent in June, 23 percent in April, and 14.5 percent in March.

The market index has lost 27.1 percent so far this year after being one of the world’s best stock markets with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Net foreign inflow was 40 million rupees on Friday, but the total net foreign outflow so far this year is 1.05 billion rupees.
Investors are also concerned over the steep fall of the rupee from 203 to 370 levels so far in 2022.

Expolanka pushed the index up, closing 2.3 percent firmer at 223.7 rupees a share.

Sri Lanka Telecom closed 24.9 percent up at 52.7 rupees a share, and Cargills Ceylon gained 7.9 percent to 179.7 rupees. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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