Plastic photo by Anmalhe
Working late so I go to KFC to get some nosh. Get two Zinger meals for myself and the boss. Looking absentmindedly at the local KFC Kottu and Biriyani when I notice the guy wrapping each of my drinks in a plastic bag and double-bagging my food. I groan inwardly, but it’s too late. The shit just stays in my car and if I take it home my mother insists on reusing it. I’m going to see this bags for the rest of my life. But whatever, I get my things and go to the car. What I notice is that the plastic is now extra thick, opaque and touchier than it used to be. And groan again. In a hackneyed effort to reduce plastic use the government has banned plastic below a certain thickness. Unfortunately, all this has done is led manufacturers to make thicker plastic. Volumes at stores don’t seem to have decreased, and the net result may actually be more plastic, and more money for plastic makers. It is like running economics backwards.Taxes are actually considered a good thing in economics cause they can shape behavior more than anything else. In the US, for example, many people like Thomas Friedman advocate a 50 cent gasoline tax in order to promote more green cars and car usage. A tax like that, implemented wisely, can spur market forces into a society-wide change while garnering money for the government. Simply banning plastic below a certain thickness doesn’t really seem to work, however, and the money goes to plastic manufacturers.
What GOSL should do is simply tax plastics at a higher rate. If they want to designate that to an environmental fund – perhaps to alleviate the countries dependence on open, untreated dumps – it would be cool, but even if it goes into the Rajapakse feudal trust at least the society would get some benefits. If you pinch the manufacturers and stores directly they will either cut down on use or give you more money. Either way you win. Under the current system nobody wins, and there aren’t even opportunities for more government tax fraud. I can understand acting against the national and environmental interest, but have you thought of all the Pajeros you could buy?