Approximately 100 tons of plastic yoghurt cups discarded in SL annually: Environment Ministry

It was revealed at a discussion held at the Ministry of Environment that the amount of empty plastic yoghurt cups thrown into the environment after use in the country is between 96-100 tons annually.

Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera held a discussion with several companies that currently recycle yoghurt cups on the steps to be taken for the proper recycling of yoghurt cups last week.

Among the findings of the discussion was that only 07 percent of empty yogurt cups discarded after use are re-collected for recycling. The remaining 93 percent is either dumped into the environment and some are burned and destroyed.
It was also revealed that about 45 million cups of yoghurt and similar plastic cups are added to the environment every month.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Environment, the Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera stated that the use of plastic cups in the production of yoghurt cannot be banned as no alternative has been identified so far. The Minister said that yogurt is a highly nutritious food that can be obtained at a low price and if the plastic cups used for it are banned, the yoghurt makers will be severely inconvenienced and the industry may collapse as there is no other option.

Therefore, the use of plastic cups for yogurt cups will not be prohibited and the use of plastic spoons for eating them will be prohibited. A Cabinet paper has already been submitted listing 08 plastic products proposed for ban. It includes plastic spoons used for eating yogurt.

According to the cabinet paper, it is proposed to ban plastic spoons, forks, plastic cups, food stirrers etc. in future.

“However, it was revealed that careless burning of yoghurt cups as well as all polythene and plastics is also harmful to the environment and human health. Dioxin and furan, which have been identified as carcinogens, are widely released into the atmosphere due to the burning of discarded polythene and plastics. Absorption of them has been found to increase the risk of lung cancer as well as skin diseases and respiratory disorders.
There are already a number of companies in our country that buy disposable yogurt cups for recycling. Representatives of those recycling companies also pointed out that the public can therefore earn extra money without burning empty yogurt cups or dumping them into the environment,” the Ministry said.

Therefore, it was proposed to start a program to increase the size of these purchasing centers. Accordingly, the Minister said that steps will be taken to expand the consumer awareness program for the recycling of used yoghurt cups by calling the representatives of those institutions once again in the future.