Ocean plastics reduction programme kicked off by USAID in Sri Lanka

Plastic drink bottles

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officially launched this week a five-year project in Sri Lanka and the Maldives to reduce environmental plastics.

The efforts will be implemented by decreasing the industrial use of plastic and improving integrated solid waste management practices in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The project’s consortium, led by Research Triangle International (RTI), works alongside local partners to target system inefficiencies and areas of reliance on virgin plastics.

The project’s overall goal is to increase participation in solid waste management and reduction programmes, preventing thousands of tonnes of plastic from leaking into the environment.

“The USAID is proud to partner with the governments of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, private sector, civil society and communities to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic products, which threaten the health and environment of the Sri Lankan and Maldivian people,” said USAID Sri Lanka and the Maldives Mission Director Gabe Grau.

“Combatting plastic pollution will reduce threats to marine ecosystems and livelihoods, food security and ultimately, human health.”

Ocean plastic pollution threatens the world’s delicate marine ecosystems, the fishing and tourism sectors, food security and human health. The equivalent of an entire garbage truck of plastic makes its way into the world’s oceans every minute-roughly 11 million tonnes annually.

Stopping plastic pollution at the source is the most effective way to address this challenge. The majority of plastic ocean debris comes from rapidly growing cities along coastal areas in the developing world where the governments struggle with growing populations and increasing amounts of waste.

Sri Lanka and the Maldives face unique challenges in waste management. In Sri Lanka, the country’s solid waste management systems struggle to keep pace with the growing urban populations.

The Maldives, an archipelago of 1,200 coral islands, has extremely limited amounts of land to store waste and is overwhelmed by managing both domestic waste and marine debris carried in by ocean currents from other countries.

The USAID partners with Sri Lanka and the Maldives to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth, promote inclusivity, strengthen governance and forge a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

The USAID also works to improve natural disaster and risk management practices, enhance environmental and climate resilience and improve energy security and sustainability.