Polythene manufacturers to stage protest today

Arrangements have been made by Polythene Manufacturers and Recyclers Association to stage a demonstration in Colombo Fort today against a government decision to ban certain types of polythene and plastic with effect from September 1.

President of the association Anura Withanage told The Island that the government had moved to ruin a 40-year-old industry within 45 days.

“The move has been made on the pretext of protecting the environment, but it will actually help a project jointly launched by some state officials and a private company to import an alternative to polythene bags,” Withanage said.

The move would result in loss of employment for about 300,000 persons, he said. “There are around 1,000 polythene manufacturers in the country. About 300,000 are directly and indirectly involved in the industry. If we add the number of dependents to those figures about one million people depend on this industry. The government has banned the production of polythene with effect from Sept. 1,” Withanage said.

He said that his association had already sought permission to produce a type of environment friendly, degradable polythene, which would perish in six months but authorities, in league with a group of businessmen, were blocking their plans.

“We have attempted several times to inform President Maithripala Sirisena of this bureaucratic Mafia and businessmen but we still could not do so as some officials keep turning down our requests for an appointment with the President,” he said.

Wijthanage said the local polythene manufacturers had the ability to produce biodegradable plastics currently made from naptha, a by-product of oil refining, which would otherwise be wasted.

“One of the demands of our agitation is to get an appointment with the President. We may march to the Presidential Secretariat seeking an appointment with him. We intend to hand over a petition outlining our grievances and the details of mafia blocking our plans,” Withanage said.

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