7.5 Waste Management and Resource Recovery

Our vision is to work towards a Zero Waste Island by reducing consumption, and by reusing or recycling waste material. To meet this goal within a reasonable time frame, we should deal with waste management issues urgently. We will adopt appropriate innovative recovery and disposal technologies and methods used across the world in managing waste. For example, use of Dendro Liquid Energy (DLE – nearly ‘zero-waste’) and smart bin technologies, eco-friendly biodegradable products, solar powered trash cleaners etc. Based on such technologies and methods, profitable ventures can be built using waste as a resource.

Our National Waste and Resource Recovery Policy covers managing, handling and disposing of all waste including electronic waste (e-waste), hazardous waste and substances. It will rely on peoples’ commitment to improving resource utilisation efficiency, reducing our collective environmental footprint of waste and improving management of hazardous waste and substances. This will cover all gaseous, liquid and solid waste including e-waste, excluding radioactive waste. It will provide the basis for collaboration between diverse jurisdictions to effectively and efficiently deal with national waste issues and ensure that waste management remains aligned with Sri Lanka’s international obligations such as the carbon emissions reduction commitments made under the Paris agreement.

Focusing on the strategies of waste minimisation and conversion of waste to energy, we will develop an integrated solid waste management system utilising to the best the existing infrastructure. An offshore sanitary landfill for the disposal of non-combustible waste shall be considered after a holistic feasibility study. A national and provincial e-waste management program shall be established to deal with recycling and disposal of electronic components and materials.

From the outset, we may have to collaboratively work with foreign companies who are leaders in the waste management space and have the specialist know-how in setting up a process of collection, sorting, recycling, electricity generation and fertiliser production. Illegal dumping of any kind of waste will be declared a serious offence. The Public shall have the opportunity to report any such illegal dumping activity. A system of waste collection fees and punitive measures against illegal dumping will be adopted based on consultation of communities in each jurisdiction.

Planning, developing and managing Sri Lanka’s waste management system will be entrusted with the Central Environment Authority of Sri Lanka. It shall be responsible and accountable for defining, standardising and enforcing all activities relevant to waste management and resource recovery, licensing and illegal dumping. It will also specify needed health and safety guidelines and conduct mandatory inspections. Any corrupt activities or irregularities associated with waste management can be referred to IBAC for investigation and will be dealt with the full force of the law.

National definitions and methods relating to waste management will be developed and national standards established for waste data and reporting through Sri Lanka Standards Institution. A database shall be established, and an Annual National Waste Report initiated to provide statistical information on waste management. A review of landfill composition audits of all provinces will be initiated.

Waste management awareness will be introduced from kindergarten upwards as part of the subject school education curriculum. A national awareness creation program on waste management will be launched using school-based educational activities that are applicable in peoples’ day to day lives. Civil society shall be encouraged to undertake a national dialogue on the necessity to move towards a more sustainable and resource efficient consumption pattern.

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