CEA to raid plastic ban violators
By Karen Hapuarachchi and Yakuta Dawood
Following the Extraordinary Gazette issued in January, which bans the use of single-use plastic (SUP) consumer items after yesterday (31 March), plastic ban violators would face fines in courts post-implementation, according to the Central Environmental Authority (CEA).
Speaking to The Morning Business, CEA Director Sarojini Jayasekera highlighted the firm stance taken with regards to the restrictions, as she stated that the sale and manufacturing of the SUP consumer items that are listed should come to an end subsequent to the implementation.
“Ideally, manufacturing should stop from the 31st (yesterday) onwards, after which stores have to sell the plastics they have in stock. However, they are not allowed to make purchases to restock on plastic,” Jayasekera revealed.
Furthermore, SUP also includes polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) utilised for filling or the formulation of agrochemicals in sachets.
In elaboration, the aforementioned ban covers sachets consisting of a net weight of 20 g or net volume of 20 ml or below with the exception of plastic used for packing food or medicines, along with products such as inflatable toys, with the exception of balloons, balls, water floating/pool toys, and water sports gear.
Another exception to the aforementioned restrictions includes earbuds which consist of a plastic stem, popularly recognised as cotton buds, that are allowed to be used for medical or clinical treatment.
She further mentioned that the violators of this ban, i.e. who do not abide by the said restrictions, would be subjected to individual raids.
“We are going to initiate raiding and carry out individual raiding in case the ban is violated,” Jayasekera commented. “We will raid individually because we have to file individual cases,” she added.
Also, the CEA Director explained the procedure involved in fining the manufacturers/retails found, via the raids, to be violating the ban. Accordingly, the first step requires individual raiding, after which the evidence found would be presented in court. Also, following the compliance of the court, the fine will be decided (evaluated as per the Act) and levied on the ban violators.
In addition, the CEA reported releasing a public notice as the first measure of implementation of the aforementioned restrictions.
“The first step of the legal proceedings involves a public notice in the papers with which retailers, consumers, and manufacturers have to comply,” Jayasekera stated.
Moreover, the CEA expressed that the banned products already exist in retail stocks and post-manufactured stock in factories.
Thus, it was revealed that retailers are allowed to sell the existing stock but are prohibited from buying further stocks or refilling stocks with the banned products.
“They have to sell the banned plastics that are already in stock. However, retailers are not allowed to purchase more,” Jayasekera elaborated.
Additionally, the CEA Director stated that measures taken against violators would be initiated after retailers and manufacturers’ existing stocks are sold out.
“It takes time. Initially, we have to give letters and carry out the official procedures. However, if we find someone selling these products in December, for example, we will file a court case in which the violator receives a fine,” Jayasekera commented.
On another note, she further highlighted that this ban was a measure taken to reduce environmental pollution.
She also elaborated that implementing restrictions on manufacturers and retailers could result in a shortage in the supply chain which would influence consumers to reduce plastic usage and wastage.
“Consumers don’t have proper disposal options; and not only for prohibited items,” Jayasekera stated.
According to local reports on waste management, the CEA had revealed that the aforementioned restrictions were evaluated based on long-term studies and research carried out on Sri Lanka’s increasing environmental pollution as a result of the excessive use of plastic by consumers and neglect in utilising proper waste management disposal methods.