When referring to any of the results of our analysis and/or its concept and design, please cite us accordingly:
Global Plastics Policy Centre (2022) March A., Salam, S., Evans, T., Hilton, J., Fletcher, S. (editors). Global Plastics Policy Review. Revolution Plastics, University of Portsmouth.
Sri Lanka National Environmental Act – Order No. 2034/35, Plastic Bag BanView the policy document
Key FindingsView the policy document
This policy prohibits the manufacture, sale, offering, and any kind of use of high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags (“lunch sheets”) within Sri Lanka.
This ban is widely considered to be unsuccessful with various concerns from consumers and protests from manufacturers. These stemmed from
- limited alternatives;
- loss of livelihoods as a result of poor capacity building efforts;
- too short a grace period between the ban’s promulgation and entry into force;
- lack of stakeholder engagement;
- insufficient cooperation between government agencies, and;
- poor enforcement.
While larger manufactures and businesses were able to absorb the costs incurring from the ban, there was a disproportionate negative impact on small-scale manufacturers and businesses. They were not able to make the switch to polyethylene-free products purely due to financial reasons and ended up losing business. The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) of Sri Lanka had promised to the manufacturers to cover 15% of the import costs for new machinery with tax concessions but according to recent evidence the CEA is yet to follow through with this promise.
The underground production and sale of HDPE sheets now deemed illegal also increased as a result of the conflicts. This was due to the higher cost of environmentally friendly sheets for both manufacturers in terms of new machinery, and consumers in terms of the increased price of these widely used products.
The CEA has carried out raids to stop underground manufacturers, but with little impact. As a result, some of the manufacturers of HDPE-free lunch sheets have not been able to compete with the lower prices of illegal lunch sheets and have had to stop their operations, refusing from operating again until the underground manufacturing is ceased.
Overall, the evidence suggests that the ban has led to unintended increases in HDPE lunch sheet use and thus has not reduced plastic entering the environment.
(Review updated in Feb 2023)
Through an analytical framework, we've reviewed over 100 plastic policies. These reviews determine the effectiveness of policies in reducing plastic pollution and we offer recommendations in light of this evidence, to enhance future policy making. You can find out more about our methods on our methods page.Methods