Oct 13, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has halted a recent practice by the island’s top retail chains to charge for plastic bags, and ordered alternatives to be provided if such bags are not considered eco-friendly, lawyers said. Sri Lanka’s top supermarket chains, with the environmental ministry, announced earlier in the year at a ceremony, that they are charging for plastic carrier bags to discourage their use.

But a three judge Supreme court bench Monday struck down the move and directed Sri Lanka’s consumer authority to issue a directive within a week banning supermarkets and other retailers from charging for carrier bags given to shoppers.

Court also directed supermarkets to give bio degradable alternatives if plastic bags were considered environmentally harmful.

Liyanagamage Ariyapala, a resident of Kottegoda, has taken the issue to court supported by lawyer Sudath Jayasundera.

Ariyapala told court in his plaint that the environmental ministry had banned the use of polythene bags of a certain thickness but no authority had been granted for supermarkets to charge for plastic bags.

Ariyapala said with an escalating cost of living it was impossible for a consumer to pay additional amounts for bags whic