BPPL Holdings PLC and subsidiary Eco Spindles, Sri Lanka’s largest plastic recycler, called for the responsible disposal of plastic waste across the island this World Environment Day. This year’s theme, “Ecosystem Restoration” is focused on implementing a solution to a depleting ecosystem, an urgent issue faced in Sri Lanka, and across the globe.
The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) noted that the Western Province alone generates around 7,500 metric tons of solid waste every day, of which only 3,500 metric tons are collected. Of this, close to 15% becomes compost, 10% is recycled and 75% is thrown into open dumps. “We recycle over 360,000 plastic bottles a day. While we are proud of our contribution to a greener Sri Lanka, the severity of the impact of irresponsible disposal of plastic needs to be addressed. People worldwide are asked to act with immediacy to revive the ecosystem that is being damaged at a startling rate,” commented Group MD, Dr. Anush Amarasinghe.
Aligning with this year’s theme and playing their part as a responsible organization, the BPPL Group has engaged in multiple waste management initiatives over thepast five years, despite challenges posed by COVID-19. Three of their key highlights are the collection initiatives at Sri Pada, Kataragama and Thalawila, three sites of religious worship that attract crowds from across the island. However, this has also resulted in millions of plastic waste being disposed of irresponsibly during season time annually. The BPPL Group identified this as an issue and established the Sri Pada, Kataragama and Thalawila Waste Management Programs to collect and recycle plastic waste that is irresponsibly thrown into the environment.
Sri Pada, located within the Peak wilderness sanctuary, is home to eight percent of the endemic biodiversity in the country and is also the spring for major rivers in Sri Lanka. In 2019, over two million people summited Sri Pada. During the 2020/21 pilgrimage season, EcoSpindles and partners, Link Natural Product Private Ltd., Maskeliya Divisional Council, and the NallathanniyaWildlife Department collected over 45,000 waste plastic bottles from Sri Pada.
The next location, Kataragama is situated within an environmentally vital ecosystem in the country, and is home to national parks and a sacred temple known to pilgrims. Due to the inappropriate disposal of plastic waste, there has been an increase in clogged waterways and animal habitat concerns over the years. Through partnerships with Coca-Cola Beverages Private Ltd., the Kataragama Soba Mithuru Youth Club, Kataragama Divisional Council, CEA, and Medical Officer of Health Office (MOH), the BPPL Group was able to collect 30,000 PET plastic bottles in 2020. Additionally, in 2019, through partnerships with the Puttalam Medical Health Office and Coca Cola Beverages Private Ltd., Eco-Spindles was able to collect over 111,000 PET plastic bottles from the Thalawila church.
EcoSpindles noted that the quantity of PET waste collected in the country reduced by 30% during the pandemic due to a decline in tourism. This is an indication of the amount of plastic waste that is brought by people visiting places across the island. Due to COVID-19, there has been a reduction in PET plastic disposed of as people cannot travel. “The reduction in plastic waste on roadsides and waterways over the past few months signal to how much waste we actually dispose. We need to correct our old ways and understand that plastic waste can only be recycled, if it is disposed of properly. With the help of our partners, we have managed to set up a large network of PET plastic collection bins in Sri Lanka. Please throw your plastic to these bins, and we will make sure it is recycled,” requested Dr. Amarasinghe.