OSC Recycling & Sustainability Service Group

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

Archive for May 2013

Metal Recycling in the Battaramulla & Colombo areas…an Update

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Battaramulla Scrap Yard with DP Geography students conducting a survey of items and prices.

Battaramulla Scrap Yard with DP Geography students conducting a survey of items and prices.

Metal – regardless of what type – is a very important and very useful material. They used in the manufacture of many of the most important objects and gadgets we use today such as computers, cars, cable wires etc. Unfortunately, all metals are non-renewable (but recyclable) resources; which mean that once they are made, they will be there forever and take up space in our environment. Therefore, it is very important that such a substance is collected and then reused or recycled for us to make new products. It is far better than manufacturing metal from virgin ore since it takes a great deal of energy and creates a large amount of greenhouse gases to manufacture metal from scratch, while reusing or recycling them uses up very little energy and also it does not emit as much greenhouse gases compared to metal manufacture from virgin ore. The amounts of energy saved by recycling metals rather than manufacturing them from ore are 92% for Aluminium, 90% for Copper and 56% for steel (West).

Recycling metal in the Colombo district-

There are a few major organizations that have several stations in the towns and cities of Sri Lanka that work to effectively undergo and encourage recycling in the country. They work collaboratively with the services provided by the government to collect any material that can either be recycled or reused; these include: paper, plastic, glass, computer circuit boards, batteries and many other substances that are then sent to recycling centres around the respective towns and cities. One significant establishment is ‘Think Green’; which is a private owned organization that “firmly believes in eco-friendly concepts and eco-friendly products” (thinkgreen.lk). They not only collect material to be recycled, but they also encourage everyone else to do the same as well.

Whilst such large organizations exist, there are also many other minor organizations around the country that possess a similar philosophy. Here in the Colombo district alone, we see a large amount of minor establishments all around the area that collect recyclable waste such as paper, plastic and of course various kinds of metals which they then, sell to recycling centres. While most of these establishments obtain material such as paper and plastic from people who personally come there and give them away for a certain price; there are quite a few however that have employees walk around the neighbourhood with large carts to find and collect whatever waste recyclable material people have stored in their houses or garages. These include the conventional metals such as Aluminium, Iron and Copper as well as other objects such as print cartridges, broken computers and televisions.

On Monday the 25th of March, our class had the opportunity to visit three of these establishments located in the Pelawatta area. One was a fairly small shop where the entire process of collection and selling off of material to recycling centres is conducted by the owner. The other two were significantly larger bodies-one of which had all kinds of recyclable material separated and stacks up in to small hills around the shop area. The walls were lined up with broken car doors and large fragments of iron and aluminium that they have obtained from other electronic items. The most valuable recyclable metal; Copper, is obtained from old wires. They are either peeled or melted off from the plastic coating and then looped around like a lasso for storage. The other metals are simply sold off for a fairly cheap price if they are not used for the shops themselves.

The buying (from people who bring in these materials) and selling (to the recycling centres) prices for the metals are:


Buying (Rs./kg)

Selling (Rs./kg)

Aluminium 100 120
Iron 40 45
Tin 10 12-15
Copper 550-600 650

Recycling is very important for our environment, especially recycling a valuable substance such metal. They are some of the most important materials that our world possesses and recycling that we already have rather than manufacturing them from scratch saves both energy and time whilst preserving the environment.


Article copyright: Akila Liyanage

Works Cited:

“Recycling Solutions.” Recycling Solutions. Think Green, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

West, Larry. “The Benefits of Metal Recycling: Why Recycle Metal?” About.com Environmental Issues. About.com, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

The author conducting a survey of metal consumption and recycling in the Battaramulla area.

The author (right) conducting a survey of metal consumption and recycling in the Battaramulla area.

Written by recycling1011

2013-05-13 at 9:08 AM

Posted in Guest Articles