Breaking the Plastics Cycle in Asia

Hemantha Withanage

Asia is drowning in plastic, with national production and imports from China and the global north resulting in devasting environmental and human health impacts. Most South and East Asian Countries, including Sri Lanka, don’t have proper waste management strategies, regulations nor facilities. They therefore resort to open dumping and burning which is harmful to human health, oceans and the environment.

Single-use plastics such as Sachet packets, plastic bags, lunch sheets, wrappers, straws, polystyrene boxes and cups have all become almost 30% of the urban waste. Additionally, only 12-15% of plastics are recycled globally and much of it ends up  in landfills, wetlands and oceans or is burnt. According to some information Sri Lanka is the 4th highest marine littering nation and, like most countries in Asia, lacks proper waste management. Many Friends of the Earth groups are concerned and campaigning to end single-use plastics through awareness, bringing legislation to regulate plastic production, trade and usage and develop alternatives.

The project supported by Ishwara Foundation through the Friend of the International- “Breaking the Plastics Cycle in Asia” is a one year project  that aims to contribute to regulating the global trade in waste and ensuring Sri Lanka’s national waste plan includes innovative measures that ban single-use plastics through public campaigning, regional exchange of best practice laws to reduce plastic and the creation of powerful digital communication.

At the national level, the project will support Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka’s advocacy campaign on the National Waste Plan. This includes FoE Sri Lanka establishing a network of volunteers to conduct a ‘citizen’ audit of corporations responsible for plastic waste, organizing community and government consultation on the waste plan.

Another key element of the project will be a global exchange of strategies and replicating best practice in reducing plastic waste and the trade in waste between Asia and Europe. The project supports the development of FoE International’s working group on plastics that will provide import information and skills needed for joint campaigns at the international level. This will include developing a model regional law to reduce single use plastics that can be replicated in other Asian countries.

The third element of the project will be producing powerful digital communicationsof the impact of plastic and power of community action. This will include firsthand stories of communities in Malaysia, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

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