The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) of Sri Lanka says measures have been initiated to provide relief to the biodegradable polythene manufacturers.
According to the CEA, tax concessions will be granted for the imports of equipment used for the manufacture of biodegradable products.
The authority also expects to provide financial support to convert the machinery used in manufacture of polythene products by the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector to machinery producing biodegradable products.
Manufacturers of biodegradable polythene-based products should apply to the Central Environmental Authority to obtain this concession, the Authority said.
The most commonly used polythene products in everyday life cause severe damage to the environment since it takes years to degrade these products. Serious environmental and social problems arise due to the accumulation of the non-biodegradable polythene products in landfills and various other places, the Authority points out.
Discarded polythene products such as bags blocking the drainage systems causing floods, death of animals due to ingestion and the release of toxic gases to the environment when burned with other rubbish are some of the hazards of non-biodegradable polythene products.
To overcome these issues the CEA took steps to prohibit the polythene use on the advice of President Maithripala Sirisena from 1st September 2017.
According to the gazette notification of 1st September 2017 under the National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980, 2034 /33, 2034 /34, 2034/35 order prohibits the manufacture of polythene or any polythene product of twenty (20) microns or below in thickness for in country use or the sale, offer for sale, offer free of charge, exhibition or use of polythene or any polythene product which is twenty (20) microns or below in thickness.
It is significant that a number of biodegradable polythene product manufacturers came forward after the ban with the initiative to develop biodegradable products. Parallel to this, various eco-friendly natural products like reeds and banana leaves came to the market.
The biodegradable polythene manufacturers on a number of occasions stressed the need for tax relief as it is costlier to produce the biodegradable products.
In response to the manufacturers' request the government is taking steps to provide the necessary financial support and tax relief.