Cabinet approval has been obtained to ban the production of asbestos from January 2024, the Government said yesterday, while revealing that a national policy on polythene, plastic and biodegradable plastic in Sri Lanka would be prepared.
The Government said that asbestos was used for many products in Sri Lanka, including roofing sheets, floor tiles, cement pipes, vehicle brake pads, papers and ropes. About 80% of asbestos imported to Sri Lanka was used for roofing sheet production.
Since 1987 importation of blue asbestos (Crocidolite) has been prohibited as it was identified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and at present all kinds of asbestos, including white asbestos (Chrysotile), have been identified as carcinogens.
A proposal made by President Maithripala Sirisena, in his capacity as the Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, to control the use and import of asbestos from 2018 by adopting more beneficial substitutes was approved by Cabinet.
Cabinet also approved a proposal to prepare an operational program to prohibit asbestos-related production by 2024 with the view of improving the health of the public, the Government said.
In addition Cabinet also approved a proposal by President Sirisena, in his capacity as the Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, to appoint a Committee of Experts to prepare a national policy and an action plan on the use of polythene, plastic and biodegradable plastic in Sri Lanka.
“There is increased use of plastic and polythene-related products in society and the improper use, disposal and burning of these products have caused many social, environmental, health and economic issues,” the Cabinet paper said.
Daily per capita use of polythene is about 0.5 kg and about 500,000 tonnes of polythene material is imported to Sri Lanka annually. Some countries have completely prohibited the use of polythene while some have allowed the use of selected plastic products.
Due to the need to control the environmental impact of polythene and the fact that numerous employees were engaged in plastic and polythene related industries, President Maithripala Sirisena made the proposal to formulate a national policy. (UJ)