Landfill in Gohagoda (Kumara)

Worldwide, the increasing population and the advancing technological development has issued strains among societies’ effort in attaining “sustainability.” A system that puts great concern on the ability in managing solid domestic waste (SDW) and municipal domestic waste (MDW). The term municipal waste means the domestic waste produced by people and society in everyday operations. This includes non-hazardous garbage, rubbish and trash from homes, institutions, mechanical industries and facilities. SDW affects every individual, not only but with the rising population the waste generation is estimated to increase from 2.01 billion tones in 2016 to 3.40 billion tons in 2050, the projected increase of 169% (World Bank). The increasing threat due to accumulating waste raises alarms on the necessary action to reduce waste by either disposing or recycling it. In the local context of Colombo, Sri Lanka the urbanizing city has incited pressure on Colombo Municipal Council and the Ministry of Environment in the need to create more sustainable strategies in managing solid domestic waste.

        The issue is derived from the management of non-biodegradable waste, for example, plastic. Plastic as a resource, cannot decay or be broken down by living organism, which augments the need for waste councils to improve management strategies as accumulation can occur and subsequently pose risk to socities (Lockwood). It is now visible that plastic waste is a real concern due to the accumulation from recent decades and the evident negative environmental effects. Plastic waste due to poor management has resulted to “flooding due to clogged drains, respiratory issues from burning, shortening of animal life span when consumed, and the contamination of water bodies with chemicals” (World Bank).

The threats have issued the efforts in recycling to reduce the amount of waste produced and to refrain the increasing trash out to landfills. The growing problem surrounding the management of plastic waste, commenced the establishment of Viridis (PVT) LTD, an institution that primarily focuses on the recycling of plastic waste in Colombo, Sri Lanka. A private company working alongside the Ministry of Industrial Development and Waste Management have effectively contributed to protecting the environment in Sri Lanka, promoting the concept of “sustainability.” The institution, only established in 2005, is now the leading plastic recycler and PET Flake exporter in Sri Lanka. The process includes the collection of plastic waste such as PET bottles, PP, HDPE, LDPE, PVC, ABS, where it is then converted into recycled plastic for redistribution.

Viridis (PVT) LTD vision:

“To be the most successful and respected Leader in waste management industry in Sri Lanka by implementing, developing and maintenance of innovative and sustainable waste collection and recycling systems while upgrading the living conditions of society” (Viridis)

 

On the 1st March 2019, the Overseas School of Colombo Environmental Systems and Societies DP2 class, chaperoned by Ian Lockwood visited the recycling center of Viridis in effort to gain an insight in the process of how plastic waste is managed. The main aim for the visiting class was not only to make links to the IB topic 8.3 of Solid Domestic Waste but to recycle the schools collected plastic waste that has been accumulating in size for 3 months, previously managed by the service group, “Recycle and Sustainable”. This was a class effort to exemplify that anyone can better improve the environment, a simple approach is to recycle. A way of promoting the approach of recycling SDW in the community encompassing OSC as we are pro curricular economy.  

[Image of operation site of Viridis (PVT) LTD]

 As we departed to the institute after lunch we ventured off in what was a 40 minute car ride along the swirly roads of sub-urban Sri Lanka. When we arrived at Viridis we were greeted by an employee named Sathyajith Wijerathne, an enthusiastic preacher on the operations held by the institute. He provided us with useful information on the process of how the operation manages and recycles plastic waste. He took us around to look at the different facilities as we examined the different stages the plastic waste had to process through to achieve the state of being “recycled” and considered acceptable to be recycled plastic- the appropriate quality for redistribution.

[Location of Viridis (PVT) LTD (Map)]

 Regarding the process in how plastic is recycled, they firstly remove any plastic labels and tags, its then transported into a vacuum tube where its cut into small pieces. Proceeding, the plastic is transported through two funnels into bags where its transferred to the next stage of the operation. The preceding stages are illustrated using a diagram:

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 9.20.28 AM.png

 Created by author 

On the market:

Separated Plastic -> rs 110 -120 per kg

      Blue and White Mix -> rs 80 per kg

Mixed Plastic -> rs 90 per kg

The increasing population and urbanization of Colombo, Sri Lanka, has resulted to the adjointly increasing urge for improving waste management strategies. This experience has provided with on-hand understanding of plastic waste. The process, operations like Viridis (PVT) LTD has to be involved with to recycle plastic, shows the efforts in reducing the overall (indirect and direct) impacts of plastic waste on society and the encompassing environment. The derived knowledge on different types of plastic like High-density Polystyrene (H.D.P.E) and H.I.P.S, the problem with consumers of recycled plastic as lots of companies prefer virgin plastic. The cost of petroleum in the local context of Sri Lanka is low which makes virgin plastic cheap, therefore resulting to the decreasing amount of buyers for recycled plastic. An economic issue faced by recycling companies like Viridis, this is evident as the export of plastic went from 500 metric tons to 1 metric tons. The fact that plastic is non-biodegradable, it poses lots of potential risk to communities in the coming years.

 


Written by Jordan Wright

Appreciation forwarded to Sathyajith Wijerathne and the Viridis (PVT) LTD

Courtesy of photographs to Ian Lockwood

 


Bibliography

 

Kumara, Sisira. “WWW: Wealth, Waste to Water.” The Sri Lankan Scientist, 12 Mar.

2018, scientist.lk/2018/03/12/www-wealth-waste-to-water/.

 

Lockwood, Ian. Photographs. 1st March 2019.

Lockwood, Ian. “Resources.” Environmental Systems and Societies Classroom,

Lecture.

 

World Bank. “WHAT A WASTE 2.0.” Education Statistics,

datatopics.worldbank.org/what-a-waste/.

 

Academic and Sport

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