COLOMBO, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government issued a gazette Friday, banning the use and manufacture of polythene products - plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam boxes - with immediate effect.
Accordingly, the manufacture of food containers, plates, cups and spoons made from expanded polystyrene has been banned for use in the country.
Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Lal Mervin Dharmasiri told reporters that the ban would be effective from Sept. 1, as a measure to preserve the environment.
The ban was made following a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena, who was the environment minister in July, and accordingly the cabinet agreed to ban the production of polythene less than 20 microns.
Polythene and Styrofoam is used by local shops to wrap lunch. Polythene shopping bags is also widely used in supermarkets and shops.
Shopping bags will be replaced with reusable cloth bags under the new law, the Central Environmental Authority said.
Sri Lanka's polythene manufacturers said 345,000 employees would lose their livelihoods due to the government's ban and have requested for more time.
The government said although the ban is effective from Sept 1, it will not take legal action on manufacturers and users till January next year in order to give them lead time to switch to other alternatives.
Anyone found using or manufacturing the banned products thereafter will face a two-year imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 repees (65 U.S. dollars).