OSC Recycling & Sustainability Service Group

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

Archive for the ‘Plastics’ Category

A Visit to the Viridis Plastic Recycling Plant

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According to the World Bank, 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW or SDW) are produced annually around the world (World Bank). The increase of solid waste, including the production of non-biodegradable plastic, is one of the most significant human induced problem that the world faces today. Today large amounts of discarded plastic end up in the environment-both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Ocean plastic is responsible for serious pollution and negative impacts to marine ecosystems is well documented. A negative aspect of plastic on the environment that Sri Lanka faces is the uncontrolled burning of plastics and other solid domestic waste (SDW). There are serious health impacts of this widespread practice that are not fully understood yet. “Some plastics we know are toxic, such as poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC). PVC contains phthalates and heavy metals and creates dioxins when it burns” (Ecology Center). In Sri Lanka, solid waste has become a serious, but uncomfortable  problem for urban planners to deal with. This was brought into the public sphere when the Meethotamulla garbage dump collapsed and destroyed many homes on April 14th 2017 (Roar).  Two years on and the country is still struggling with how best to manage solid waste in the face of growing production of SDW.

Global production and consumption of plastic continuously rises in an age of sometimes contradictory development, prosperity, disparity and globalization. The challenge with plastic waste in now well documented (see links below)  and understood but the momentum of the problem and its links to consumption habits which drive economies is hard to address. The idea of recycling plastic (and other) waste has economic merits while also addressing part of the problem that countries like Sri Lanka face. Several businesses are working as recyclers in Sri Lanka. They help to manage the rather enormous amounts of single use and other plastic produced by this small island while also struggling to run a profitable business at a time when petroleum and virgin prices are relatively low.

On March 1, our DP2 Environmental Systems and Societies class visited the Viridis Recycling Plant. We spoke with Sathyajith Wijerathne, who gave us a tour of the facility. This company focuses on the recycling of plastic materials in Sri Lanka. At the moment, it is the leading plastic recycler and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flake exporter in Sri Lanka. Waste plastic bottles and other items are collected and brought to the factory in the Templeburg Industrial Zone, Panagoda, Homagama. The company employs 30  manual workers and an additional 4 drivers. Once inside the facility the plastic is segregated and then cut into small pieces called PET flakes. “These PET flakes are [later] used as the raw material for a range of products that would otherwise be made of be made of polyester” (Viridis). Most of the plastic that they recycle is exported while a smaller percentage is used in local manufacturing in Sri Lanka.

During our visit, we had the opportunity to see what procedures were taken with the plastic they collect. The different types of plastic first have to be separated into colors and types. They are then cut into very small pieces in a machine and are later washed and dried. They are first soaked in barrels, cleaned and then water is extracted. In order to completely dry the tiny pieces of plastic, they are set on trays and are baked in a large electric oven. Finally, the many pieces of plastic are set in bags to be sent to other companies that will create products out of the recycled plastic. Most of this is exported outside of Sri Lanka.

Viridis_plastic_product_1(03_19)

Recycled Viridis plastic ready for sale. The Color of the plastics has an important influences on how much recyclers can get for their products. Clear plastic earns more.

Through this experience, we learned more about the different types of plastics, such as HDPE (for example, chairs) and HIPS (for example, computers). It is therefore important to separate plastics since they are used for different purposes.

It is important to have companies, like Viridis, that recycle plastic in order to move towards a more sustainable planet. However, recycling requires a lot of energy and thus reducing and reusing are still preferable strategies for dealing with how we consume plastics.

Article by Camille-Anh Goulet (with editing from her teacher)

Photographs  © Ian Lockwood, 2019

REFERENCES

Albeck-Ripka, Livia. “Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not.” New York Times. 29 May 2018. Web.

de Freytas-Tamura Kimiko “Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling. “ New York Times. January 2018. Web.

Kaza, Silpa et al. What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050. Washington, DC: World Bank. 2017. Web.

Milman, Oliver. “‘Moment of reckoning’: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports.” The Guardian. 21 February 2019. Web.

Parker, Lisa. “Planet-or Plastic?” National Geographic. June 2018. Web.

Semuels, Alana. “Is This the End of Recycling?” The Atlantic. 5 March 2019. Web.

 

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Written by ianlockwood

2019-03-22 at 1:47 PM

Plastic Recycling in Colombo: A 2018 Update

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Plastic, plastic and more plastic!

Plastic is a non-biodegradable material that is being accumulated in the world today in disturbing and alarming quantities (see the Guardian’s 2017 article for an update). Although plastic is an important resource in our daily lives, its end product contributes seriously to the broader problem of mismanaged Solid Domestic Waste (SDW). Since plastic it not biodegradable, the way in which it is disposed is important, as if it is incorrectly disposed, it can cause environmental pollution, along with other health related issues. Other than reducing the consumption of plastic (the best solution) one of the alternatives to the incorrect disposal of plastic, is recycling the plastic. However, this method does not reduce the amount of plastic that there is in the world, and the recycling process usually involves a lot energy. Nevertheless, there are other comparatively efficient ways to deal with the management of plastic waste, but this article focuses mainly on recycling as a potential solution.

The issue regarding the management of plastic is of global significance – it is challenging to effectively and efficiently dispose of plastic, mainly because most plastics are non-biodegradable – they will remain on earth in the same form for a long time – and because humans have become excessively dependent on plastic. Moreover, this hinders the chance of people reducing the amount of plastic that they use, inevitably forcing re-using and recycling to appear as more feasible methods for the management of plastic.

Viridis Field Visit

In March 2018 the DP Geography class visited the Viridis plastic recycling center in Horona Sri Lanka to learn more about PET and other plastic recycling. Viridis has a collection point on our campus and we took the accumulated plastic items with us. After we had arrived at the center, we introduced ourselves to the people there and handed over the recyclable plastic waste that we had brought from our school. Viridis addresses the issue of plastic on a national scale – they collect plastic from all around Sri Lanka and bring it to their factory, where they recycle it. Their vision as a company is “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.”

Mr. Nilantha Gamage, from the management team, gave us a tour of the Viridis facility. He started by providing us with statistics related to what they were doing at the center. He told us Viridis trucks and teams collect and process approximately 100 tons of plastic waste a month. It is estimated that Sri Lanka imported about 15,000 tons of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) during a similar period of time (see Chrishanthi Christopher’s  Sunday Times article). Thus, depending on statistics for the country, Viridis is only processing a small percentage of all of the plastic being produced and consumed in Sri Lanka. Mr. Gamage also addressed some of the economic issues that they face while recycling the plastic. For example, he spoke to us about how people prefer to use virgin plastic (plastic that is produced new from the petroleum refining process), therefore the selling prices of non-virgin plastic (plastic that has been recycled) in the market would remain higher than that of virgin plastics – because virgin plastics are in demand and more people are buying it – hence it is slightly difficult for them to sell the plastic that they recycle.

Different types of plastic used by consumers. Most of this is recycled at Viridis (source: Quora)

Mr. Gamage then directed us outside where we observed how they handle the plastic in the Viridis recycling plant.

  • Step 1:They started off by separating the plastic according to its color, after which they would put the plastic bottles into a machine which would remove the sticker around it, as well as the bottle caps.
  • Step 2: Following this was the shredding process, which was also done by a large, noisy machine. However, if the plastic was too big to be shredded – like a plastic garbage bin – then a Viridis worker manually chop the plastic into smaller chunks before shredding it (The shredded plastic looks like colored plastic rice grains).
  • Step 3: Even though the plastic was shredded, it was still dirty. Therefore it was put into a tub of water, washed and finally dried in an electric oven.
  • Step 4: The end of the drying process was followed by the beginning of the packing process, and it is then ready to be exported to buyers. Unfortunately, it is at this point, that they face the economic challenge – the price for recycled plastics is very as a consequence of relatively low crude oil prices. at which they are selling the plastic is low and they are barely breaking even.

While we were exploring the Viridis recycling plant, I observed that the plant consistently incorporates the use of a lot of energy in their machinery (the shredder, the machine that removes the bottle caps and the stickers as well as the oven), thus I wondered how much energy they consume in a month. I approached Mr. Gamage and asked him, and he told me that they consume roughly 8,000 units of energy in a month: which is a lot of energy; supporting the fact that even though recycling is considered an effective way to handle plastic waste, it still consumes a lot of energy in the process, which makes it a slightly inefficient process!

Impact of China’s Plastic Import Ban

Many high-income countries (Europe and North American notably) used to export their plastic waste for recycling in China. However, in 2017 China banned other the import of plastic waste because they did not want to be the “world’s garbage dump” (Freytas-Tamura). This affects many high-income counties as the volume of plastic in their recycling centers is high and China has always been a good market. Hence, they are struggling to effectively manage the plastic. Consequently, this reflects how much people in the European region depend on plastic and also, countries do not want to be responsible for handling plastic waste.

The John Keels group has also recently taken the initiative to address the management of plastic and recycling plastic. Moreover, their website is very insightful, as it shows its users the exactly where they can drop off their plastic waste, and it simultaneously spreads awareness if it reaches the right audience. It is possible to get more information regarding this by visiting their website.

Our trip to the Viridis plastic recycling center was insightful, not only because we had the opportunity to see how plastic is recycled, but also because it shaped our understanding of the rising global concern of effectively managing plastic and the problems associated with it.

REFERENCES

Christopher, Chrishanthi.  “Reusable bags diktat doubles plastic imports” Sunday Times. 12 February 2017. Web.

Fazlulhaq, Nadia. “War against plastic waste hampered by don’t-care public.” Sunday Times. 29 June 2014. Web.

Freytas-Tamura, Kimko. “Plastics Pile up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling.” New York Times. January 2018. Web.

Laville, Sandra and Matthew Taylor. “Bottling it: A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’”. The Guardian. 28 June 2017. Web.

Quora. “What are some types of plastic?” Web.

 

Article by © Devin Amalean with edits and additions from his DP Geography teacher

photos by the author

Written by ianlockwood

2018-04-24 at 11:58 AM

DP Geography Study of Pelawatte Recycling Operations

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Screen_Shot_2017-03-14_at_12_09_55_PM

The two recycling centers we visited (photo collage by Adrián Yáñez )

Solid waste is a global problem that is becoming difficult to manage. Most of us throw our garbage into a rubbish bin, but do we know where this garbage goes? On the 3rd of March, the DP 1 Geography class visited two recycling and scrap centers in the Pelawatte Area (near the OSC campus). They were relatively small places, but they gave the class an idea of what happens to the items that we throw away.

Solid waste management is a problem that Sri Lanka is facing, and there is only a small group of people who are working to recycle some of the items we throw away. In Colombo itself, 700 tons of garbage is collected each day (Roar), which is 58.6% of the total garbage collected in Sri Lanka (Sunday Times). To the majority of us, this value may not concern us, but where does this garbage go?

In Colombo, the garbage collected has historically been dumped at the Meethotamulla landfill, which is located 30 minutes from OSC, and has now become unusable, because of the various environmental hazards caused by the large amount of garbage dumped there. The problem in Sri Lanka is that the majority of garbage collected is not separated. Therefore it cannot be effectively recycled or disposed of. Based on a study conducted in 2012 by the Central Environmental Authority, 54.5% of the waste that is collected is biodegradable, which means that they can be composted (CSECM). If people were to compost this biodegradable waste, half of the garbage at the landfills would have never even be there. Separation is the key.

The people at the recycling and scrap centers we visited are examples of environmental heroes, who are not given the credit they deserve for the work they do. The picture below is the first recycling center we visited. It was a small place,but there is a lot of cardboard stacked out in front. All of that will be recycled. If this center was not there. That cardboard would have ended up at a landfill (or been burnt). Inside the the recycling center there were plastics, glass (bottles), and scrap metals which were all being collected to be recycled.

Geo_field_study_1(03_17)

Weighing the paper collected from school at the first recycling center (2 minutes from OSC). This is where the Recycling & Sustainability (Train to Sustain) service group takes its paper every Thursday.

Graph showing comparative buying costs for commonly recycled items in Pelawatte (where OSC sells its items), Battaramulla and the United States. Compiled and graphed by Thiany, Yuki & Malaika.

A graph comparing prices of low-cost recycled goods (buying price) in Pelawatte (where we sell our material, Battaramulla and the US.

The people who own centers like this, are not recycling materials because they want to save the environment, instead they are doing it for an economic reason. They are able to make money off recycling materials, and by doing this, both themselves and them and the environment are benefiting from it.

Solid waste disposal is becoming a huge problem that needs proper management. A step each of us can take is separating our biodegradable waste from the rest, and compost it. This would reduce almost half of the garbage that is collected from us, and in turn reduce half of the garbage that is dumped in a landfill. The next step is recycling items such as paper, and plastic. By taking these steps, solid waste would not be such a large problem.

Geo_field_study_5(03_17)

Concluding the field trip with reusable soft drink bottles

Article by Anaath & Adrian with contributions of the Class of 2018 DP Geography class. Data analysis and presentation by Thiany, Tuki & Malaika. Survey 123 data and analysis by Fatma, Easmond and Zoe. Photographs by Adrian and Mr. Lockwood.

WORKS CITED/FURTHER LINKS

Doole, Cassandra. “Garbage Separation And Recycling Are Finally Here (For Colombo, At Least).” Roar. 5 July 2016. Web.

“Garbage Collection and Recycling in the Dumps.” The Sunday Times Sri Lanka.”17 Jan. 2016. Web.

Sapra, Satyanshu. “The Business of Reincarnation – Bringing Discarded Metal Back to Life!”  Recycling & Sustainability Blog. 2014. Web.

Sustainable Approaches to the Municipal Solid Waste Management in Sri Lanka.” Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries (2016): 119-32. SECM. 13 Dec. 2015. Web.

Widanapathirana, Akash. “Biggest garbage generator tries to put house in order.” Sunday Times. 19 March 2017. Web.

Written by recycling1011

2017-03-14 at 12:35 PM

The State of Plastic Recycling in Sri Lanka: A Case Study of Viridis

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Plastic waste brought from Hikkaduwa for recycling at Viridis.

Plastic waste brought from the beach town/ tourist hub at Hikkaduwa for recycling at Viridis.

Plastic remains one of the single biggest and intractable solid waste management challenges in Sri Lanka. One doesn’t have to look too far to see plastic waste dumped along roadside or smoldering in small neighborhood fires. Currently, the Sri Lankan government as a part of their effort to improve recycling and resource management has been slowly trying to ban more of the less degradable plastic (CEA). The issue was covered by the Sunday Times and other news organizations (see links below). However, annual plastic consumption is increasing in Sri Lanka and  is set to increase from 6kg to 8kg per capita (Sunday Times). Waste management strategies not able to fully deal with the existing amount of plastic solid waste so what happens when the amount increases? This short post will look at the basic economics and geography of what is being done by a plastic recycling factory in the OSC neighborhood.

One of the largest plastic recycling companies in Sri Lanka is Viridis Pvt. Ltd. They have a fleet of 6-9 trucks that gather plastic from the most densely populated parts of Sri Lanka (from Anuradhapura in the north to Katharagama in the south). They currently buy plastic at around 20 LKR/kg but it fluctuates depending on petroleum prices (two years ago it was 40/kg). At the moment, petroleum prices are low and virgin plastic is cheap. Thus, the price for recycled plastic is relatively low. The global price for a unit of plastic has fluctuated as from 86 to 274 LKR (0.6 – 1.9 US$). Viridis collects most types of recyclable plastic such as PET bottles and higher grade plastics (buckets, toilet seats etc.). They used to collect plastic bags, but it is no longer cost effective.

OSC’s DP Geography class visited the Viridis recycling plant as part of their Patterns in Resource Consumption unit. They were joined by several members of the Recycling & Sustainability group. In fact, student leaders Nandini Hannak and Nisala Shaheed along with their faculty facilitator Ian Lockwood had made a preliminary visit in December (see their blog posts linked below). Viridis’ manager Buddhika Muthukumarana took us on a tour to show us the steps of sorting, clearing and palletization that happen in the process of recycling the plastic.

The key to plastic recycling seems to be in the economics of production and collection. At the moment the price of petroleum is low and virgin plastic (which is a byproduct of the petroleum refining process) is at one of the lowest levels (see these links: PN and FT). Thus, the price for recycled plastic has gone down significantly to the point that it is hardly a viable process to collect, clean, chip and sell it. After the eye opening tour we were left to ponder ways to consider improving the recycling business while at the same time discouraging wasteful use of plastic in Sri Lanka and other places. A key step would be to get the producers of plastic to have a larger role in the recycling or substitution of their materials. At the moment they produce an abundance of disposable items but play no role in helping society to deal with the waste! Surely this has to change as part of a broad-based solution to address solid waste challenges that Sri Lanka faces.

Article © Sadira Sittampalam & Ian Lockwood 2016

Sorting plastic based on type and color at the Viridis recycling plant.

Sorting plastic based on type and color at the Viridis recycling plant.

Portraits of Viridis employees sorting PET plastics.

Portraits of Viridis employees sorting PET plastics.

Portrait of Viridis employee sorting PET plastics.

Portrait of Viridis employee sorting PET plastics.

OSC students learning about the process and economics of plastic recycling at the Viridis plant. Buhhika, the plant manager, is giving the DP Geography class and R&S members the tour.

OSC students learning about the process and economics of plastic recycling at the Viridis plant. Buddhika, the plant manager, is giving the DP Geography class and R&S members the tour.

Plastic pellets made from recycled plastic (mainly PET) ready for export to markets (mainly in China).

Plastic pellets made from recycled plastic ready for export to markets (mainly in China). On the right are cleaned plastic bottles being readied to be chipped.

Photographs © Ian Lockwood

 

Works Cited/References

Christopher, Chrishanthi. “Sri Lanka among the ‘dirty five’.” Sunday Times. 17 January 2016. Web & Print.

“Garbage collection and recycling in the dumps.” Sunday Times. 17 January 2016. Web. 25 March 2016.

Hannak, Nandini. “Viridis Lanka Plastic Recycling Center.” The Nautilus (Nandini CAS blog). 4 December 2015. Web.

Plastic Pollution Coalition. Web.

Rodrigo, Malaka. “Polythene baddies hammered from tomorrow.” Sunday Times. 31 January 2016. Web. 25 March 2016.

Saheed, Nisala. “Viridis Recycling Plant Visit.” CAS: A Step Outside Shelter. 27 December 2015. Web.

Warakapitiya, Kasun. “Poor rubbish collection hatching dengue menace.” The Sunday Times. 31 January 2016. Web & Print.

Waste Management Unit. Sri Lanka Central Environmental Authority. Web.

Written by recycling1011

2016-05-31 at 12:26 PM

Plastic Recycling Update

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From bottles and supermarket bags to chairs and computer monitors—plastic is everywhere! So where does plastic come from? Plastic comes from organic products such as crude oil. Crude oil goes through a distillation process in an oil refinery and 2 main polymer groups which are thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics are the ones that are produced overly, used constantly. On the other hand, thermosets are plastics that cannot be undone. With all of these plastic, there should be a place where they all go when it is used.

According to The Atlantic, out of the global solid waste composition, 10% is plastic. We often use PET bottles and plastic bags because they are cheap and easily available. Now, where do they go? What do we do? Recycle! Recycling plastic is very handy and helps a lot when we reuse the material. It helps in our environment and that is what we want especially because plastic are non-biodegradable because it does not decompose. Hence, we need to act upon this issue. In Sri Lanka, recycling is not mandatory, unlike other countries. It is hard to recycle because you have to go to the recycling shops and sell your things.

In Colombo very few of the recycling/scrap shops recycle plastic. The recycling shops that do accept plastic waste only allow high-grade plastic. This may be because of the cost of it. It is more valuable than PET bottles or shopping bags. The average cost of high-grade plastic is 10 LKR per kilo while the average global cost of plastic is $50 per pound (source). Compared to other recyclable materials and from the average global cost, it is cheap to sell plastic here. These recycling shops then sell it to other countries like India and the recycling process is done there. It cannot be done here because we learnt that the Sri Lankan government does not support recycling. Therefore, we should partake in recycling plastic! Little things can make a huge difference. When we just separate plastic from other materials, it will be easier for the recycling shops to organize the materials and segregate them. We can also implement using paper bags instead of plastic bags because plastic does not decompose.

Article ©Mikka Pesigan, 2014.

Freudenrich, Craig. “How Plastics Work.” How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web.12 Mar. 2014.

“Green Insider: The Truth about Plastic Recycling.”  Atlanta INtown Paper. AtlantaINtown Paper. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.

“How Plastic Is Made.” The Plastics Portal. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

Thompson, Derek. “2.6 Trillion Pounds of Garbage: Where Does the World’s Trash Go?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 June 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.

Written by recycling1011

2014-04-07 at 12:34 PM

Recycling of Plastics: An Update for OSC

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Weighing paper at the nearby scap dealer. Note the plastic PET bottles that he has collected. Generally it has been difficult to find buyers for OSC's plastic waste.

Weighing paper at the nearby scap dealer. Note the plastic PET bottles that he has collected. Generally it has been difficult to find buyers for OSC’s plastic waste.

The island has long had people who buy old bottles and newspapers.

Collecting old iron has also become a lucrative business to some.

But not everyone knows that there is money in waste plastic.” (Jayawardena)

These lines have the reason behind the result we got from the study done about plastic recycling in Pelawatte area. Recycling has been a major issue in the current time because the waste coming from the products we consume are leading to environmental problems such as global warming. People are being increasingly aware of recycling and mostly everyone is recycling newspaper. But has anyone thought about what happens to the plastics we consume? Plastics are a part of our daily life because water bottles are made of plastics, milk cartons have some amount of plastic and the plastics cans that are been used. Where does this plastic go? How much waste plastic do we produce and how much this plastic is being recycled every day? These are some of the questions that people don’t think about.

Recycling newspapers isn’t the only way to help the environment. Most of the environmental problems are caused because of the non-decomposable plastic that has been left in the environment (Recycling).The study we did in the Pelawatte area showed us some big issues which aren’t being solved. We saw that out of 3 only 2 recycling centre collected plastics but only 1 didn’t heat it up whereas the other one did. Heating up the plastic releases hazardous materials in the environment and polluting it.

When asked for the reason for not collecting plastics there were 2 major reasons. First, that plastics are hard to process. The plastic recycling centres have to go through a hard step-wise-step process of separating, washing, shredding, identification and extrapolation process (Plastic). Second, there aren’t high demands for plastics compared to metals. This connects to the quote provided above. Why aren’t there enough demands for plastics? The reason is because people don’t know that there is money in waste plastic.

But still there are some people who sell plastic to these recycling centres. Now the question that arises is that, what happens to the plastic that is brought to the recycling centres? The answer is, either they are burnt off polluting the environment or taken to Wattala, but none of the recycling centres we visited know what happens to the plastic that is taken to Wattala. One of the recycling centres said that some of the plastics in their recycling centre is burned off or sold to people who want to buy plastic cans. They sell small plastic cans for Rs.8/can and the bigger cans for Rs.40-50/can. What got our mind confused was, why do they have such high difference in the prices even though the cans weren’t that different.

Looking at all the data we got we can conclude that there is a lot that has to be done regarding plastic recycling. We have to start off by making people aware of the benefits of plastic recycling and how much money that the recyclers are willing to pay (Jayawardena). Second, we have to look at what happens to the plastic that is taken to Wattala. We have to aware the people of the problems caused by burning the plastics. The final thing that we need to look forward is to atleast helo in the process of recycling. We know that recycling plastics is a hard process but if we can separate the plastics that have to be recycled we can contribute to recycling of plastic recycling (Jayawardena).

“Even one step towards progress can mean a lot”

Article Copyright Varsha Muraleedharan, 2013.

Work Cited

Jayawardena, Niranji. “Sri Lanka Promotes Waste Plastic Recycling – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE.” Sri Lankav Promotes Waste Plastic Recycling – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE. N.p., 3 Nov. 2007. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

“Recycling Is a Major Issue for Us All.” Skip Hire London Recycling Is a Major Issue for Us All Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

“5 Stages of the Plastic Recycling Process.” Free Press Release Distribution Service. N.p., 27 Oct. 2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

Written by recycling1011

2013-06-03 at 6:33 AM

Recycling Plastic in Sri Lanka…a 2012 update

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The author at the Battaramulla scrap yard/recycling center

Plastic is a material that can be, and should be recycled. Knowing that our planet is now beginning to run out of resources, we should instead of wasting them, begin to recycle more and think more economically friendly. Our IB Geography class from The Overseas School of Colombo made visits to the nearby collection centers to see and learn about recycling in Sri Lanka. We were introduced to the different types of recycling that take place especially in our surrounding community. Once we walked into the large mess of different collected recycling materials I straight away noticed that majority of it was metal. Plastic did not strike out, and clearly was not one of the main materials to be recycled.

After asking questions and interviewing the workers, we found out how the collection business works. Plastic recycling is a process where used up plastic is collected and separated to the different plastic types. From here, they are later melted or reprocessed into useful products. The collection centers only process the materials and then later forward them to recycling instances where it is reused rather than thrown away. The centers profit from this as they sell the plastic for a higher rate than what they get it for (buy for 25rs/kg and sell for 35rs/kg therefore profiting 10rs/kg). Individual people and companies, both, bring in recycling material that the collection centers pay for. Sri Lanka imports 160,000 tonnes of plastic raw materials each month (Sri Lanka News).This is not as much as in some countries in South Asia, but it is believed to increase in the future as Sri Lanka is to develop.

The collection centers are very specific on what they take in to be recycled. We found out that for instance plastic bags and small plastic items were not accepted by the centers. What was accepted were big plastic containers, plastic bottles and other preferably hard, big sized plastic objects. The collection centers being so particular in what they accept to be recycled, does not therefore solve the issue of trash and pollution on the streets and around us. The smaller pieces of plastic that are not being recycled as a result end up burnt or buried underground polluting the environment.

Recycling plastic is not popular in Sri Lanka just yet, but may and should be in the future. It benefits our planet as well us in the long run, so why not help now?

Work cited:

“Sri Lanka Promotes Waste Plastic Recycling – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE.” Sri Lanka News, Economy and Business from Lanka Business Online. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.

article copyright Sara Saletro 2012

Written by recycling1011

2012-04-23 at 5:17 AM