OSC Recycling & Sustainability Service Group

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

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2014 15 Recycling & Sustainability Group

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OSC's Recycling & Sustainability group in the first semester of the school year. Ranjit who helps us with getting the materials to the scarp dealer is on the far right.

OSC’s Recycling & Sustainability group in the first semester of the school year. Ranjit who helps us with getting the materials to the scarp dealer is on the far right.

This is the 10th year that OSC’s Recycling & Sustainability group has been in operation! This school year we have Yoon Jae Hwang as the principal student leader with the support of Nishant in  Grade 12. They are supported by  DP1 students Nisala and Nandini. We have a relatively small group and have been working to handle the schools’ paper recycling without too many difficulties. This year we expect to see a decline in the amount of paper consumed and therefore recycled as OSC moves to a more digital learning environment. We continue to gather data on consumption and recycling patterns.

Written by recycling1011

2014-10-30 at 3:35 PM

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New Semester of Recycling

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In the past few weeks, our CAS has been able to have another sign up for the upcoming semester. Through this activity, we got a large number of new people to participate in our CAS programme along with others who have been a part of this activity for a long time.

Since a new semester of service has begun, new goals and reflections have been encouraged. From the previous semester of Recycling and Sustainability, we have done a wonderful job overall with all the hard work we have put into in the past semester.

This was the case because our student leaders, Jennifer and Sayanshu and Faculty Supervisor, Mr. Lockwood, kept up with their routine and meeting a few times a months to talk about tasks that need to be done during service sessions. Therefore, they are able to collaborate with each other was beneficial to making the service a success both for the CAS group and the rest of the school environment, being able to promote a more sustainable and healthy environment for the whole school community, raising global importance of recycling, reusing and reducing the materials used at the school, including paper and cardboard.

Everyone who participated in service were willing to work hard and be able to help out and the majority of the people to come to service every week. They work very hard in trying to accomplish what needs to be done every week, and acknowledging or understanding the importance of this CAS group. This was mainly done through planning intimate activities prior to having the meeting or recycling session

For the upcoming semester for this service group, continuing to develop skills, such as leadership and continuing to raise or help raise awareness of the issue amongst the participants and school students. If they achieve this in the upcoming semester, student’s parents would learn about the consequences and duties of recycling in the Colombo area. Another goal would involve the ability to learn about recycling from around the world. If this were done, then there would be make connections on how to solve solutions in the school surroundings, also learning about the situation from various countries.

Written by recycling1011

2013-02-18 at 3:45 PM

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School Newspaper Article

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Have you ever wondered what happens to the objects you dispose? Well, the useless and discarded waste is turned into a fresh and dynamic product! In this rapidly changing world, new discoveries and inventions in the field of science and technology have done the undoable. The three step technique called ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ is the rule that governs a new business of reincarnation – the reincarnation of non-biodegradable waste!

The Recycling and Sustainability Group @ The Overseas School of Colombo is a service group in the school’s Community Service program that collects and sorts used paper, cardboard, plastics and several metals into their respective material groups during weekly sessions held afterschool on Thursdays. These items are then sold to scrap dealers in the Battaramulla region. They, in turn, supply these to recycling agencies located in Sri Lanka, India and China.


Often times, recycling of used materials is thought to be the only step towards creating an environmentally-friendly cyclic waste management system. Consequently, the rates of consumption of many items continue to increase. Thus, the OSC Recycling and Sustainability service group aims to raise communal awareness regarding the importance of reducing consumption of non-biodegradable materials and promoting their reuse wherever possible in order to avoid wastage. For this purpose, cardboard trays made from cartons have been distributed to all rooms in the school for the purpose of collecting ‘reusable’ paper. Similarly, in order to increase efficiency in recycling of non-biodegradable waste in the school, the OSC Maintenance Department has initiated a new program to better waste segregation on the campus. In accordance with the school’s strategic plan for 2010-2015 aimed at creating a green environment, separate sets of bins have been allocated for ‘Plastic’, ‘Paper’ and ‘Food’ waste collection.

The success of this initiative to promote sustainability and an eco-friendly waste management system in the school relies on the response of the OSC community. It is important that all members of the community make efforts to scrupulously follow the new waste disposal system. In addition, independent actions such as minimizing avoidable consumption at home, refraining from printing as far as possible and using electronic means instead, and selling old newspapers and other discarded items to scrap dealers for recycling would surely reduce the community’s ecological footprint.

Dhyani Ywahoo rightly said that “You can tell how high a society is by how much of its garbage is recycled.” Hence, it is vital for everyone in the community to play their part. So, the next time you are disposing a waste item, be ‘waste wise’ and remember ‘3 R’s for waste avatars.’

Written by recycling1011

2012-11-08 at 10:10 AM

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Household Waste Issues in Colombo & the Western Province.

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Map from the Sunday Times article (2012 10 07)

Malaka Rodrigo has writen an informative article on waste management initiatives in Colombo and the Western Province. See the 7 October 2012 Sunday Times.

Written by recycling1011

2012-10-08 at 6:51 AM

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Recycling Poster

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The OSC Recycling and Sustainablity Team! Try and Find People You May Know!

Written by recycling1011

2012-02-28 at 4:39 AM

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Recycling continues!

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2012 already!!! :O Well we only got 12 more months to continue recycling and bring Overseas School of Colombo’s ecological footprint down; we’d better get started. This is our first post in the year of 2012, and yes we are late on the update but we did get a lot done so far. Just look at the statistics:

The graph shows low amounts of Paper, Cardboard and Plastics. This means that the consumption rate of paper, cardboard and plastics at OSC has decreases. When you compare the graph of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 you will see a significant amount of change in the amounts of paper, cardboard and plastics. The spike in 2nd of September is because it was the first recycling session after summer vacation and no recycling was done during the break.

The total amount of money that we have gained so far is 3000/= RS less than last year’s total amount. This supports the evidence that consumption rate of paper, cardboard and plastics have decreased.

This is an achievement for recycling and sustainability! We will continue to reduce the ecological footprint! Go Green! And don’t forget get to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! 🙂

Written by recycling1011

2012-02-16 at 8:46 AM

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The First of The Year (2011-2012)

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Welcome back! Hope everyone had a great fulfilling summer.

Recycling is back on this year and we hope you lend us your hands and help out. Together a lot can be accomplished and we can make a greener world for our future!

This year Alex and Constanze are the leaders of the group, along with our supervisor Mr. Lockwood. Our first session will begin on Thursday the 1st of September.

Written by recycling1011

2011-11-01 at 3:42 AM

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Plastic Bags Woes in Sri Lanka: The OSC Experience

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Waiting to be recylced..this is aclually high-grade plastic that earns more money than bottles etc.

The situation with plastic bags-their production, consumption and disposal- in Sri Lanka is a “discarded” and serious issue. From the elderly to teenagers, from the wealthy to the lower class, plastic bags are mindlessly being thrown away.  Not only is this a problem in Sri Lanka but many other nations have the same problem with over-consumption and disposal.  According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. OSC is trying to address this epidemic of throwing away plastic bags.

The grade 11 geography class headed out to two recycling centers that the OSC Recycling and Sustainability gives its recyclables to. Although both recycling centers took in metals, plastic bottles, glass and an assortment of things, they both did not take plastic bags. Dismayed by this manner my partner and I asked the leader of the Recycling CAS in OSC what they do with plastic bags they collect. Again, we were disappointed with the response of, “We just throw them out” said Alex. It’s alarming to hear that plastic bags are not being recycled or at least reused. The data got worse when we did a survey of how OSC students treated plastic bags.

When asked on an average of how many times OSC students use plastic or cloth bags when shopping at a supermarket 18% of OSC students confessed that they use plastic bags over the cloth bags. “Occasionally my family uses the cloth bag but sometimes we forget.” was one common response used by our surveyors. When asked why they use plastic bags over cloth bags the most common response was, “Because it’s there, easy, and cheap. We don’t have to worry about it because it can be thrown away”.

Although plastic bags provide a cheap and easy way of carrying things, they are causing an impact on the wildlife and environment. It’s estimated by the TOPP organization that over 100,000 turtles and marine animals die each year due to mistaking a plastic bag as food.  Not only are plastic bags affecting the aquatic life but also the terrain life. Plastic bags are a large part of the land fill it is not so much of having plastic in the ground (although it’s estimated that a plastic bag will take about 400-1000 years to biodegrade into the ground –sadly no one will know!) but the production of them.  Producing plastic bags emit tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sri Lanka has given a push towards reducing the amount of plastic bags used. The government has banned “thin” plastic bags (20 microns) and also tried passing a law of charging customers for using them. Many methods are being used to treat this growing problem, biodegradable bags are being produce, many retail stores such as Keels are providing cloth bags with a small fee. Although these approaches are proposing to be a better outlook, they are not enough. Only when everyone begins to do their part will we see a world without plastic bags.

Article Copyright Charity Dowers, all rights reserved 2011

Written by recycling1011

2011-05-19 at 10:01 AM

Acid Dilemmas: Recycling Batteries in Sri Lanka

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In Sri Lanka, like most other countries around the world, the daily usage of batteries is high. The varieties of batteries range from normal AA size to lead acid batteries in vehicles. Ranging with size, however, is also the toxicity of these batteries and the threat they pose on the environment. This factor comes into question when looking at the methods of disposal we follow. This article follows general statistics in Sri Lanka in terms of the usage and recycling of batteries, as well as a close up of the Battaramulla area and OSC itself.

Sri Lanka most notably uses 5 types of batteries: automotive, generic, industrial, motive and special. The lifetime of all these batteries vary with brand and usage, and the size depends on their purpose. Automotive batteries are used in vehicles, generic in portable tools and devices (such as alarm systems), industrial for stationary applications such as telecommunications, motives for transporting loads such as fork lift trucks, and finally special batteries scientific, medical or military applications. Out of these the most widely used are the automotive batteries, used to power nearly all of the 1.5 million vehicles on the roads.

All batteries are made by a range of substances like acid, lead, nickel, mercury, etc. Needless to say, these substances are extremely harmful for the environment if not disposed properly. Over time, the casing of the battery can disintegrate and the toxic chemicals can leak into the surroundings. These chemicals can contaminate the soil and water and can harm both humans and wildlife. Although batteries made of mercury, which is one of the most harmful substances, are now appearing less in the market, the problem arises when considering the fact that other batteries are still produced in large stocks of around billions every year.

The recycling of batteries takes place by dismantling them and removing the chemical substances inside for reuse. When recycling is not possible, the substances are disposed of in a way that they are not harmful to the environment. Some batteries are even buried in concrete to ensure this (Recycling). This is not done in Sri Lanka; rather Battery recycling involves a series of intermediary management steps that entail only collecting, stacking and reconditioning. These activities are carried out in the form of small and medium scale businesses. In a survey done in 2005 by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) in collaboration with the Divisional Environmental Officers (DEOs) of Sri Lanka, it was revealed that 2000 such places of recycling and reassembling places existed in Sri Lanka (Ministry).

Here in the Battaramulla area, there are several such businesses that take in batteries and transport them for recycling.  OSC’s Grade 11 geography class visited such a place and found out that the buying price for an automotive battery is Rs 60/kg and the selling price is Rs 75/kg. For Computer batteries it is Rs 25/kg and Rs 35/kg respectively. These businesses are important both to the economical development of people who’ve set them up, but more significantly to the sustenance of the environment we all share.

In a survey conducted for the recycling of batteries at OSC, the following results were obtained from the 39 people who answered. When asked whether they recycle laptop and mobile phone batteries, only 10% ‘Yes’ with 62% saying ‘No’. Those who do recycle them stated that they do so by taking them to a shop that takes them in (much like the one our class visited). When asked how they dispose regular AA size batteries, 44% said that they just throw them away, while 36% said that they throw them away separated from other garbage items. Some also stated that they keep them in their houses separately in a cupboard so as not to pollute (Survey). As recycling is not possible for normal AA batteries, this is the next best option. Overall these results weigh on the positive side, as most of our students are aware of places to recycle batteries at and also to keep them from harming the environment. However, more awareness should nevertheless be spread as to ensuring that 62% people who do not recycle phone and laptop batteries are told about places where they can do so.

Article Copyright: Harini Liyanage  2011

Works Cited

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. “Technical Guidelines on Management of Used Lead Acid Batteries.” Cea.lk. Central Environmental Authority, 2005. Web. Feb. 2011. <http://www.cea.lk/pdf/Battery%20waste%20Management%20Guidelines.pdf&gt;.

“Recycling Batteries and The Toxic Hazards of Battery Disposal.” AZoCleanTech – The A to Z of Clean Technology / CleanTech. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. <http://www.azocleantech.com/Details.asp?ArticleID=132&gt;.

“Survey on Recycling Batteries at OSC.” Online Survey Software Tool – Create Free Online Surveys – Zoomerang. 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. <http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22BY6CQYLYB/&gt;.

Written by recycling1011

2011-04-22 at 3:45 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Aluminum Cans (Resource Conservation Strategies in Sri Lanka)

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In Colombo, the community around OSC, Battaramulla disposes its waste (including aluminum cans at times)  through conventional garbage collections and more eco-friendly scrap yards. So what happens to all of the waste we produce?  To find an answer of the amount of aluminum cans being thrown away in our waste and the processes it is being done, our class decided to visit a nearby scrap yard/recycling center located near the school. After an interview with one of the staff in charge, I managed to deduce the following information. The site receives an average of 300 kg of aluminum cans per month and that the buy value of aluminum per kg is 100 Rs. and the selling price is 120 Rs. However these price values are probably unlikely because the recycling center staff member seemed reluctant to tell us the full details of their operations.  However, if the prices stated to us are true, it means that the trash disposal company receives a profit when they purchase aluminum cans from citizens and then sell their aluminum cans to landfills or recycling plants. The fact that there is a buyer that purchases aluminum cans acts as an incentive that persuades local citizens to take advantage of their waste disposal program, causing the amount of waste to be more organized within the community.

Relating this experience to our community of OSC, we are a massive producer of waste in Battaramulla. The waste we create is collected by municipal disposal companies situated within Battaramulla. The aluminum cans that our school creates are sent to similar scrap yards similar to the areas I visited earlier. But when we send our aluminum cans to waste disposal centers, what actually happens to them? This fact from a UK study should help explain the circumstances of aluminum disposal and recycling.  Did you know that five billion aluminum drink cans are sold in the UK every year? Each of the cans have the ability to be recycled which will allow the nation to save energy, reduce resource consumption and provide lower waste levels. Sadly, only 42% of aluminum drink cans are recycled within the UK, meaning that the other 58% which is equal to three billion cans were disposed by means of garbage, waste or landfill.

One of the simplest ways to rid of aluminum cans is by recycling. A small list of the many advantages of recycling aluminum cans include, it requires less energy compared to mining and smelting it a new, it reduces the needs of raw materials such as bauxite, it reduces the amount of landfill levels in communities, it is the most cost-effective material, and it is one of the easiest materials to recycle.

It should seem trivial by now to not recycle your aluminum cans; so the next time you finish that can of Coke, don’t throw it into the trash, rinse it out, let it dry, and set it aside for recycling. This simple procedure will aid the struggle of resource preservation and sustainability indefinitely, so remember “Don’t bin your tin”.

Article Copyright: Skylor Knoll  2011

Written by recycling1011

2011-04-22 at 3:39 AM

Posted in Uncategorized