Lack of national level initiative(s) which drive the citizens towards a behavioural change to reduce plastic waste and to encourage development and production of plastic alternatives.
- Absence of continued effort(s) in terms of awareness & education geared towards creating a behavioural change of citizens to seek alternatives for plastic in terms of consumption and production.
- Lack of support for the ecosystem within the country that establishes a healthy level of supply & demand for plastic alternative products.
Sri Lanka being a small island covering an area of 65610km² holds the top position as one of largest Plastic Polluters in the world. The island produces 1.59million tonnes of plastic waste a year, much of which ends up in the ocean causing a rapid decline of fishing stocks from 300000 tonnes in 1980 to just 50000 tonnes in2020.
Though there are initiatives to create awareness on 3R, there is a visible imbalance between the awareness and the practice. The common practice among the locals is to consume more & more plastic.
Sri Lanka banned the manufacture of Styrofoam, polythene under 20microns, using PET and PVC materials. Despite the presence of regulations it demands a great deal of understanding and commitment by the citizens in-terms of plastic consumption. Whilst the enforcement of law help punish wrongdoers and streamline processes, in the long run a presence of a sustainable initiative could contribute to converting a larger number of people to “Say no to plastic” When there are no continuous mechanism to satisfy the people who are ready to look at substitute for plastic, without much doubt they would turn back to their usual easy way of doing things using plastic material. This gap between the availability of plastic alternatives and the set of people who are willing to move towards a change vitally needs to be addressed.
As a country we must see the economic effects of plastic pollution that have been felt in Sri Lanka. Studies suggest that microplastic pollution is one of the main causes of rapidly declining fishing stocks along the Sri Lankan coast, with fish resources plummeting from 300,000 tonnes in 1980 to just 50,000 tonnes in 2020 (Handunnetti, D. (2019). Microplastics a key factor in Sri Lanka’s plunging fish stocks, survey shows. [Online] Mongabay Environmental News.).
There is a visible imbalance which results in such higher volume of plastic waste. Though there are initiatives to create awareness and practice Recycling, the issue is that common practice among the locals is to choose plastic despite the fact thinking whether the usage can be reduced or avoided.
The usage of one time usage plastic, plastic material is at a peak when compared to the portion of them being recycled. This ultimately results in a high volume of plastic waste at the end of the day.
Therefore there is an untapped ideology of making a change in the mindset of people to reduce the usage of plastic.. When there are no continuous mechanism to satisfy the people who are ready to look at substitute for plastic, without much doubt they would turn back to their usual easy easy of doing things using plastic material,
This gap between the availability of non plastic or substitutes of plastic and the set of people who are aware and ready to move towards a change vitally needs to be addressed.
In line with the high usage of plastic, being a country enriched with many traditional handicrafts, workmanship and world famous skilled workers when it comes to sculpturing, wood carving and so one- the attention towards these class of skilled workers. When plastic items replace their product, they tend to move towards new livelihoods for a living trading off the traditional workmanship and skills. There is an urgent need to provide a safe platform which enables them to create a demand in the market through tech driven solutions and innovative ideas. This becomes a win-win situation to both the parties. The unavailability of a health ecosystem for such eco friendly products to be made by our own locals is a definite gap which requires to be bridged which in inturn, benefits the environment through minimising plastic usage.
The project Zero Plastic nation is towards bridging the existing gaps of unavailability of a strong market, lacking awareness and the possible entrepreneurs with the potential to produce through which a market demand can be created.