News

Quarter arrack bottle ban soon

By Pamodi Waravita

Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera said the ban on the 180 ml arrack bottle (commonly referred to as the “quarter-bottle”) will be implemented soon, as findings have shown that not even 5% of these bottles are recycled and that they are seriously detrimental to the environment.

“In 2018, over 105 million (105,532,169) 180 ml arrack bottles were sold in the country. In other words, 52% of the total volume of arrack bottles that were sold were 180 ml bottles. This has become a huge environmental problem, as those who use the 180 ml bottles dispose of them into the environment,” stated Amaraweera, addressing the media last Saturday (20).

“The manufacturing companies do not have a programme in place to collect the used bottles. These bottles are usually thrown into paddy fields, which injure farmers. They ultimately end up in our rivers, polluting them. I will take the necessary steps to implement the ban soon,” he added.

National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Chairman Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa said last week that a public survey conducted recently had shown that 72.4% respondents supported the ban of the 180 ml alcohol bottle.

However, at a press conference held last week regarding the survey, journalists questioned whether the survey paints an accurate picture of the opinions of all social classes in Sri Lanka. Dr. Rajapaksa had, however, assured them that the survey had been conducted in two steps – through a Google Form via the internet, and through a physically printed copy of the survey that was distributed throughout the country.

“Over 1,000 respondents have participated in this survey: 62% of the respondents were men, over 40% of the respondents were between the ages of 17 and 30 years, and 30% of the respondents were smokers. We have not written down the education levels of all the respondents, but it covered everybody from high school graduates to undergraduates,” he stated.

“It is said that when the quarter bottle is banned, the sales of beer bottles may increase. Similarly there is a myth that when you increase the prices of cigarettes, the use of beedi increases. However, studies have shown that this is not so. The quarter-bottle also affects our agricultural industry and our environment, as they are thrown into paddy fields after consumption. That is why we must somehow stop this quarter-bottle,” Dr. Rajapaksa said at the time.

Thus, he further said, the NATA Act No. 27 of 2006 will also be amended soon.