Cultural Practices on Food Waste Generation: Sri Lankan Experiences

Mahamadachchi Komalee Nadeeka Damayanthi

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The World Bank estimated that waste generation in Sri Lanka will increase from 2.6 million tonnes in 2016 to 3.7 million tonnes by 2050. The Government collects only 27% of the daily waste generation. Great majority of both collected and uncollected waste is disposed of using inappropriate methods such as burning or open dumping. Therefore, waste minimization and prevention are important in Sri Lanka. this paper examines how public attitudes, behaviour and cultural practice influence waste generation, minimizing and prevention in Sri Lanka.
This qualitative research is based on both primary and secondary data. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews of 30 participants selected from Central, Provincial and Local governments, researchers, and recyclers. Field data was collected from November 2019 to January 2020 in Sri Lanka. NVIVO software was used to analyse data.
Key findings
Cultural practices, public attitudes and behaviour contribute considerably to increased waste generation. Awareness programmes, behavioural changes from childhood, and inhouse rules and regulations for institutions will help to minimize waste generation.
Cultural practices such as bringing home made meals when visiting patients at hospitals,preparing extra food for every meal in case of unexpected visitors, and feeling shy to serve food 2-3 times at public places or events such as weddings and almsgiving were found to cause increased waste generation. For example, Kandy General Hospital disposes of about four tonnes of food a day. However, awareness and in-house regulations of waste generation at public places/institutions such as fine for food waste at buffet cause minimize waste generation. As revealed through interviews a few private companies and government institutions reached nearly zero waste through such practices.
Government, private sector, and individuals can co-operate to minimize waste generation and prevention through awareness programs, in-house regulations and behavioural changes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventISWA World Congress-2021 - Athens, Greece
Duration: 4 Oct 20217 Oct 2021


ConferenceISWA World Congress-2021


  • Waste minimization
  • behaviour
  • Sri Lanka
  • Cultural practices
  • regulations


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