- Annually 2,550,000 MT of municipal solid waste is generated in Sri Lanka
- Of this waste 15% (385,000 MT) is plastic waste
- 230,000 MT of plastic waste is generated in the Western Province
- Approximately 35% (80,000 MT) is recycled island wide
‘Plasticcycle’, a John Keells Group Social Entrepreneurship project has a vision of being the catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.
Plasticcycle was launched as a pilot in July 2017, in two wards belonging to the Colombo Municipal Council located in Colombo 2 (Wekanda and Hunupitiya) with the intention of adopting the learnings from the pilot in further expanding the project. Plasticcycle initially introduced bins to collect all recyclable plastic waste such as bottles, cans, lids and jars made with plastic. Based on the positive response to the bins, Plasticcycle has now expanded its bin locations to 130 placing them across many of the Keells outlets in and around Colombo, public places and the Southern Expressway (in association with the Road Development Authority).
As at end October the collection from the Western Province alone has exceeded 40 Metric Tons as which to give context the volume is equivalent to 1,200,000 PET bottles. Working in partnership with the Sri Lanka Recyclers Association (SLRA) and manufacturing companies such as Eco-Spindles, a subsidiary of the BPPL Holdings PLC, has resulted in the manufacturing of value-added products using the plastic including monofilaments for cleaning tools and yarn for fabric manufacturers worldwide.
Plasticcycle also facilitated an awareness tour for the Colombo Municipal Council waste management team to the plastic recycling plants and the Dompe Sanitary Landfill to educate those in the value chain to appreciate and understand what happens to the plastic waste they collect, and how what their work do make a difference to the country. Awareness programs were also conducted in schools, educating the younger generation about plastic footprints and how they can help the world overcome the problem of plastic pollution.
The engagement of school children in the process has seen positive results with Plasticcycle placing bins at prominent schools in the Gampaha. The most recent expansion has been to the Sugathadasa Outdoor Stadium where large volumes of plastic waste is generated.
ZeroTrash, a change agent who contributes to the recycling initiatives in the country with a specific focus on the Western Province is one of the organizations that works closely with Plasticcycle. The Co-founder of the ZeroTrash initiative, Hasanka Padukka says that “waste in its different forms, will always be a problem in Sri Lanka, and it’s up to the private sector to join hands and work towards more sustainable solutions especially in the areas of Plastics where gaps in the collection mechanisms result in large volumes accumulating in the environment.” Partners such as ZeroTrash bridge the gap between households, corporates and the recyclers with initiatives including online platforms to streamline the process of collection.
Plasticcycle has also joined hands together with the Sri Lankan Navy on a collaborative pilot project by contributing to the development and testing of a prototype chamber to produce value added products such as flowerpots and ornamental statues using non-recyclable plastics with the aim of developing a sustainable business model.
“Plasticcycle” is a Social Entrepreneurship Project of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. JKH provides direct employment to over 13,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 14 Years by LMD Magazine. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Member of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its vision of “empowering the nation for tomorrow,” through the John Keells Foundation.