Municipal Solid Waste Management - The Sri Lankan Case


  • Nilanthi J.G.J. Bandara Department of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka



Disposal of solid waste is a priority environmental issue in Sri Lanka and at present it has become anational concern. Although haphazard solid waste disposal has been identified to be one of the majorcauses for environmental degradation in The National Action Plan of Sri Lanka, the most commonmethod of municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal still remains to be open dumping. The issue of MSW ismost acute in the Colombo municipal area and in the suburbs of Colombo. Except for the municipality ofColombo, MSW disposal in Sri Lanka is primarily a function of the public sector and in most of theurbanized municipalities MSW management is one of the largest employers of labor. The majority of theMSW management cost is allocated for waste collection and transportation rather than for waste disposaland treatment.

According to the provisions of the Local Government Act, the Local Authorities (LAs) in Sri Lanka areresponsible for collecting and disposal of waste generated by the people within their territories. Thenecessary provisions are given under the sections 129, 130 and 131 of the Municipal Council Ordinance;the sections 118, 119 and 120 of the Urban Council Ordinance; and sections 93 and 94 of the PradeshiyaSabha Act. The required basis for integrated solid waste management is provided by the present policies,strategies and the legal provisions. The National Environmental Act (NEA) of 1980 which wassubsequently amended in 1988 provides the necessary legislative framework for environmental protectionin the country. The National Strategy for Solid Waste Management (NSSWM) put forth by the Ministryof Forestry and Environment in 2002 endorsing the need for integrated solid waste management providesthe overall guidance for the management of the country’s solid waste. The irony of the situation is thatthough MSW management in Sri Lanka is rather chaotic the required framework for developing anappropriate waste management system has been in place for quite a while in the country.