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Tragic Elephant death in Sri Lanka due to consumption of plastic waste

Alarming images of an elephant eating disposed waste mixed with plastic released on June 3 is raising concerns around Sri Lanka regarding the hygiene and pollution laws of the country. Thus, the viral images have prompted the lawmakers of Sri Lanka stricten their pollution laws. This case of poor waste disposal has been added to the list of various such cases causing experts to draw the conclusion that while many such similar pollution laws have been ignored in the past, the trend still continues.

Sri Lanka has reported one elephant death per day in the first quarter of 2023 majorly because of human causes. An average of 20 elephants and other wildlife deaths have been tracked in the past decade due to the use of single-use plastic products. The officials expect a law banning such products to be enforced within the next few weeks. 

Human beings are blamed for clogging drains with bottles, wrappers or other plastic products which causes urban flooding or leads to dengues that is spread by mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water and can be deadly. 

Anil Jasinghe who is the country’s top environment official said that regulations will soon be published outlawing the sale of such plastic items including cups, plates, cutleries, drinking straws and plastic flower garlands. Jasinghe also admitted that the execution of such laws had been a problem previously. In 2006, there was a ban on super-thin plastic bags and food wrapping but the manufacturers openly brushed it aside. Jasinghe also said that there needs to be more environmental literacy among people in order to develop the production lines into a more environment-friendly one. 

A garbage dump on the edge of Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo was shut when a mountain of moldering rubbish collapsed. The founder and president of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society Ravi Corea stated that he is afraid Sri Lanka might set an unwanted new record for the highest number of elephant deaths in a single year.

The United Nations reported that only three percent of the consumed plastic products in Sri Lanka are recycled. This is less than half the world average of 7.2 percent. A 2020 study by the Centre for Environmental Justice showed that items such as bags, cups, boxes which are single-use plastic products, make up 15 percent of the urban waste. Banning these products in the country “is a good move”, Nishshanka se Silva, founder of local environmental group ZeroPlastic Movement said.

Image Source: Hindustan Times

Edited by: Nandini Roy

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