Colombo, July 12 (IANS) Sri Lanka has banned plastic shopping bags as it is facing a dengue epidemic and garbage crisis, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said on Wednesday.
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 by local shops with immediate effect, Xinhua news agency reported.
The use, production, import and sale of lunch sheets would be banned under the new regulation, said the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), adding that burning of plastic bags in open areas was also prohibited from Wednesday.
The CEA said shopping bags will be replaced with reusable cloth bags under the new law, which according to local media reports was introduced in an effort to reduce environmental damage brought about by the use of non-biodegradable polythene items.
The island nation 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 complained that piles of garbage were left uncollected in the capital with the government vowing that it would clean up Colombo and its outskirts.
Sri Lanka is also facing its worst ever dengue epidemic with over 225 patients killed and over 80,000 infected.