National Plastic Waste Inventory for Sri Lanka: A Material Flow Approach

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This document presents the methodology and findings for a national plastic waste inventory for Sri Lanka. It has been prepared as part of the project titled “Marine litter and micro-plastics: Promoting the environmentally sound management of plastic wastes and achieving the prevention and minimization of the generation of plastic wastes,” commissioned by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (BRS) on behalf of the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD). 

A material flow analysis (MFA)-based approach has been used to develop the inventory. The MFA approach allows the mapping of flows of plastic waste arising from sources of generation (e.g. householders and businesses), through the formal and informal waste management systems and to its disposal or recovery. It also incorporates an assessment of the potential leakage of plastic waste into the environment at various points in the waste management system (e.g. collections, handling, sorting and landfill disposal). 
The inventory focuses on macro plastics (i.e. plastic items and fragments above 5 mm in size) generated by municipal sources, as this is the most common fraction of plastic waste and is considered to be the source of plastic waste that poses the greatest risk of mismanagement and leakage into the environment. Due to the limited availability of data on many issues associated with plastic waste management in Sri Lanka, the estimates produced by the inventory are subject to considerable uncertainty. However, they provide an initial assessment of the scale of plastic waste management and pollution and can be used as a basis for planning strategic efforts to reduce plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.