COLOMBO, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said on Wednesday that the island nation will ban plastic shopping bags while it is facing a dengue epidemic and garbage crisis.
Following a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena who is also the minister of environment, the cabinet agreed to ban the use of polythene and Styrofoam which is used by local shops to wrap lunch and polythene shopping bags which is widely used in supermarkets and shops with immediate effect.
The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) also stated that the use, production, import and sale of lunch sheets would be banned under the new regulation.
The CEA added that burning of plastic bags in open areas was also prohibited, from Wednesday.
Shopping bags will be replaced with reusable cloth bags under the new law, the CEA said.
Local media reports said the new law was introduced in an effort to reduce environmental damage brought about by the use of non-biodegradable plastic polythene items.
Sri Lanka has been facing a garbage crisis after a central garbage dump collapsed in April, killing over 30 people and burying an entire neighbourhood.
Local residents have complained that piles of garbage have been left uncollected in the capital with the government vowing that it would clean up Colombo and its outskirts soon.
Sri Lanka is also facing its worst ever dengue epidemic with over 225 patients killed and over 80,000 infected.