To tackle the escalating issue of Sri Lanka’s plastic waste management, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has initiated the implementation of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model, which requires all stakeholders generating plastic waste to take responsibility for recycling and minimizing the use of plastic packaging.
‘The Ministry of Environment will support and welcome all initiatives started by the private sector including the implementation of the Collect-Back Target model proposed by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The Central Environmental Authority will closely monitor the progress of proposed mechanisms and complete the legal provisions required for meeting efficient outcomes from each method. The Ministry of Environment and the Central Environmental Authority reiterate the necessity of playing an active role by the private sector to adhere to the EPR principle with Best Available Technologies’, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Anil Jasinghe stated.
The Ceylon Chamber and Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) developed the EPR Roadmap in 2021, to provide a strategic plan for plastic waste management in Sri Lanka. The implementation of the Mandatory Reporting and Collect-Back (MRCB) model was recommended under this EPR Roadmap. This EPR scheme based on MRCB model was developed under the guidance of a Project Steering Committee comprising of key Government Agencies including; Ministry of Environment, Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), Coast Conservation & Coastal Resource Management Department (CC&CRMD), Western Province Waste Management Authority (WPWMA), State Ministry of Provincial Councils & Local Government Affairs, Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) and private sector representatives from beverage, water bottling and dairy sector.
The MRCB model, requires plastic users to declare their annual usage and pledge to collect back an agreed-upon percentage, targeted to reach close to 100% over a five-year period. The initiative aims to increase plastic waste collection and recycling in order to minimize plastic pollution. The proposed Collect-Back Target model has been endorsed by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), and welcomed by the private sector.
‘There is an urgent need for an integrated and collaborative approach within the plastic value chain in order to implement a sustainable framework, ensuring effective and effective plastic waste management. The Collect-Back Target model will help to promote greater accountability among corporates and ensure an efficient system of monitoring and evaluation’, said CEO and Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Manjula de Silva.
The private sector will commence reporting of waste collection and recycling through the online reporting system. The initial phase will focus on two types of plastics, namely, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) packaging. The outcome of voluntary EPR implementation will be documented to draw lessons that can be applied to a mandatory collection and reporting system in the future.
The project is guided by a high-level multi-stakeholder Project Steering Committee, co-chaired by the MoE Secretary to the MoE and the Secretary General of the CCC.
The Ceylon Chamber and the Ministry of Environment, urge all private sector companies using plastic packaging to intensify their voluntary plastic collection and recycling initiatives, and from 2022 onwards to maintain the necessary records in order to demonstrate their commitment to EPR.