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Monday December 11th, 2023

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 rupee opens at 327.00/50 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 327.00/50 to the US dollar on Monday, from 327.00/30 Friday, dealers said.

On the Colombo Stock Exchange, both indices opened up: The All Share Price Index 0.28 percent at 10,823, and the S&P SL20 0.35 percent at 3,113.85.

Bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 14.05/20 percent from 14.05/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 was quoted at 14.05/20 percent from 14.10/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 was quoted at 14.20/50 percent from 14.20/35 percent.

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Sri Lanka promoting Buddhist tourism from Vietnam, ASEAN

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to boost Buddhist tourism by linking temples in the country with those in East Asia, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said after to welcoming a delegation of monks from Vietnam.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Minister Sabry have initiated a temple-to-temple program where 100 Sri Lanka temples will be linked with counterparts in the Association of South East Asian Nations region.

“Tourism development will get a lot of growth with the temple-to-temple program,” Minister Ali Sabry said.

Along with the delegation of monks, five travel agents from Vietnam were also invited.

Under the first phase of the Temple-to-temple programs, several monks from Sri Lanka had received invitations from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam the Foreign Ministry said.

The Temple-to-Temple diplomacy program will be extended to Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Cambodia during the second phrase of the program.

Sri Lanka is targeting 2.3 million tourists in 2023, after getting about 1.5 million this year. (Colombo/Dec10/2023)

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ADB $200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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