OSC Recycling & Sustainability Service Group

A reflective blog exploring recycling & sustainability initiatives at the Overseas School of Colombo

Archive for August 2012

Recycling Options in Battaramulla for New Faculty, Parents & Students

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This message went out to all OSC faculty at the begining of the school year:

OSC has been making a conscientious attempt to reduce its ecological footprint through the campus Recycling and Sustainability program. Since many of you are new to the school and Sri Lanka you may have questions about what to do with your used paper, batteries, plastic containers etc. This memo should address the basic issues but you are always welcome to drop by to ask me questions (room S24).

In recent years the issue of waste and, in particular, plastic waste has been a nagging problem in Colombo and much of Sri Lanka. Garbage is often piled up on roadsides and in unattended public garden areas. People frequently set this on fire, unaware that burning plastics such as PVCs is one of the surest ways to encourage cancer and other health problems. The same unattended waste in urban areas is also directly connected to past spikes in dengue fever cases.


OSC has had a recycling program for several years but we are always looking to improve the percentage recycled and decrease the amount of waste that our campus community produces. The Recycling and Sustainability service group has a recycling shed under the big water tank near the gym/cafeteria where we store items. Once the community service programs start running on Thursday afternoons a noisy band of students (grade 5 and up) will be coming around to collect paper, clean plastic, batteries, cartridges etc. from your classrooms. They will also provide you with a box if you don’t already have one. We lock the door to avoid problems of people dumping unsegregated waste in our room. If you have a surge in recyclables, contact me and I can open the door so that you or your students can bring things down.

A growing concern on the campus is that rate at which we use paper and printer cartridges. According to last year’s data the unregulated use of color printers costs the schools significantly- roughly $30,000 a year which is about a third of the technology budget!! Please be aware of this as you print. A few simple steps can reduce the load here:

  • Give out as much class material as possible electronically (Managebac is a great way to do this).
  • Only print critical documents in color (you can turn off the color on the printer profile).
  • Use the back-to-back option in the printer set up. Ask if you need help with this.
  • Avoid printing multiple copies of color copies unless is it absolutely necessary (photocopies cost much, much less per page).

To reduce campus waste we have experimenting with compost bins at the end of the secondary “S” building. There are four concrete boxes and a green Arpico bin. At the moment they have dried up and need fresh attention. My students and I are available to provide lectures to younger students on the marvel of a working compost bins!


You will soon discover that electricity is an expensive resource in Sri Lanka (roughly 50% is from hydro sources while 50% is fossil fuel-based thermal generation). Air conditioning is the single biggest consumer in households and at school. Keeping your doors closed and turning off the ACs when you are not in rooms makes a significant difference. It also reduces your carbon footprint and is a tangible way to make a difference about climate change. In the cooler months we encourage you to open windows and doors in school and to use fans. Several years ago we had a policy of not using ACs in the mornings (before break). This worked quite well except in rooms that could not open their windows. The canteen needs monitoring since the doors frequently get locked in the open position. Be sure to help students to close doors.


We would prefer that you DO NOT bring recyclables items from home to school. Instead you can utilize one of the recycling “eco-kiosks” around Colombo. There are also scrap dealers that buy paper, cardboard and some items. In fact the Recycling and Sustainability group has made thousands of rupees selling our waste paper and cardboard to a buyer down the road near the Central Environment Authority (Rs. 6 for a kg of paper and Rs. 10 for a kg of cardboard). There is an Eco Kiosk about two kilometers away from the school on the Kandy Road that leads out of Battaramulla (see map below). The center is open from 6:00 AM-3:00 PM seven days a week. There is usually an attendant who monitors the center and is very helpful when you take him things. He is especially grateful if you have cleaned all the items that you take there. Unfortunately it has become a bit of dump site for mixed garbage. Unscrupulous citizens drop bags at night when it is not monitored and today the place is not as inviting as it should be. Here’s what he takes:

  • Plastic (containers as well as bags and packaging)
  • Paper & cardboard
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Batteries, printer cartridges etc.

If you have a decent-sized yard, consider buying a green compost bin from Aprico or the Central Environment Authority (@ Rs 3,500). These are designed to be rodent proof and if you maintain them properly (by balancing kitchen waste with yard waste)  they will not smell. They produce rich organic fertilizer every 3-4 months and take care of most of the kitchen waste that makes your garbage containers stink! Please come and see our family’s four compost containers if you want to see a functioning system (we have a container at school but they haven’t received the love and dedication that my household ones get).

The Recycling and Sustainability service group will continue to tackle other issues on the campus (kitchen waste, the sale of plastic bottles etc.) during the year. Our student leaders this year are Jennifer and Satyanshu (both in Grade 12). We maintain a blog at https://recycling1011.wordpress.com/where you can check out our sales figures, latest photographs and occasional articles. Thank you for your cooperation! Let’s work together to make 2012-13 a cleaner more sustainable school year!

Written by recycling1011

2012-08-26 at 5:27 AM

Posted in News Articles

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