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A PET collector’s journey amidst a raging pandemic

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Says getting the plastic waste to end up in recycling centres is more than just a job for him

* Mahesh’s story is one amongst the 200+ collectors in Sri Lanka

* He collects the stuff from hotels and hospitals in Galle

*Says poor waste management and segregation plaguing the country

The importance of recycling is highlighted globally because waste has a negative effect on the natural environment. In some capacity, recycling also gives society an excellent reason to play a supporting role in keeping our planet clean. Recycling also has other benefits; one such is the economic opportunities generated through the creation of jobs.

Since the 1980s, individuals and small and medium-sized businesses have created a livelihood around plastic waste collection from different industries and sectors in Sri Lanka. Since then, the country has continued to see an increase in recyclers and plastic waste collectors. According to the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) the registered number has grown from 37 in 2007 to over 230 in 2019.

One such collector is Mahesh, who has created a living by collecting post-consumer plastic waste (PET and HDPE) from hotels and hospitals in Galle. He has been in the waste collection industry for ten years, which has helped him support his family, including his two children in grades 8 and 2.

On a typical workday, Mahesh starts by driving his lorry to pick up plastic waste from locations in Galle. His collection trail includes gathering waste from around 40 hotels in Unawatuna and collecting plastic trash brought to him by the Army camps in Galle, Kamburugamuwa, and Boossa. He also collects the plastic trash that the Galle Harbour retrieves from the ocean and along the beaches.

Though Sri Lanka has seen an increase in recyclers and plastic waste collectors, COVID-19 has presented a new set of challenges to Mahesh and his business. Currently, he collects enough PET to fill 2 TATA Lorries because of hotel closures, equaling 1,000kgs a month. Before COVID-19, he collected and sent 4 loads, approximately 2,500-4,000kgs of PET per month, to Sri Lanka’s biggest recycler, Eco Spindles.

However, issues of waste collection for Mahesh are more significant than the pandemic itself. After being in the industry for a decade, Mahesh has witnessed first-hand problems in the recycling journey, especially at the collection stage, at a household and commercial level. The increase in population, changes in consumption patterns, and lack of awareness of waste disposal are contributing factors to a poor waste management and segregation issue plaguing the country. “People dispose all types of waste together. Waste is mixed from the hotels I collect from. Everyone must be aware of segregating it. This is because it makes life easier for collectors like myself to pick it up,” noted Mahesh.

He also noted the lack of plastic waste segregation from hotels could be due to the fear staff members have with separating waste disposed by guests due to COVID-19, which has further complicated his task.

Mahesh also sees the benefits of recycling because it redirects plastic waste taken to landfills and moved to recycling facilities to give it new life. Recycled PET can be turned into products such as fiber and apparel, even the 2019 ICC World Cup cricket jersey for Sri Lanka was made from waste plastic recovered from the beaches!

Understanding that undisposed plastic waste across the country is a severe issue, Eco Spindles has played a significant role in growing Mahesh’s business over the past few years. To assist him further, they plan to install a bailing machine to help bail the collected plastic. Installing an on-site bailing machine will assist Mahesh as it compresses the waste, which saves space when transporting waste to recyclers from his facility.

The CEA has also assisted Mahesh by installing a hut needed for waste collection. “COVID has disrupted business continuity. I need to be proactive. I hope the CEA can provide additional assistance by helping me get a recycling machine that can recycle more than just PET alone,” stated Mahesh.

Mahesh wants to alter his business structure in a rapidly changing environment, accelerated by COVID-19. He wants to install a molding machine to recycle other types of plastic, where he can collect items like yoghurt cups that are thrown into the environment. “If I have this machine, I can get good use from it by making products out of waste like flower pots and basins,” mentioned Mahesh.

Mahesh also noted the impact COVID-19 has had on employment. In the services sector, accommodation, transport, food, and personal services reduced employment due to local shutdowns and travel restrictions imposed for local and overseas tourists. He is confident that expanding his business and collection network will provide new employment opportunities to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic in his collection business.

Mahesh’s story is one amongst the 200+ collectors in Sri Lanka. Making sure that plastic ends up in recycling centers is more than just a job for Mahesh. He is doing his part to ensure that leftovers of our waste are recycled into new life. Echoing Mahesh’s sentiments, everyone has a role to play if we are to improve and increase recycling in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has over 300 PET plastic collection bins across the island in leading supermarkets, community centers and places of public gathering. Segregate your waste, dispose it responsibly.



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Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan owned company to receive FAMI-QS certification

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Farmchemie has obtained FAMI-QS certification being the first Sri Lankan owned company certified with FAMI-QS. FAMI-QS stands for Feed Additive and pre-MIxture Quality System, which compromises the safety of animal feed and the quality of processed goods in accordance with European regulation no. 183/2005 on animal feed. Farmchemie is a BOI approved leading manufacturer and exporter of animal feed additives and nutritional supplements in Asia. Farmchemie is equipped with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility from Bühler, Switzerland to offer quality assured manufacturing services for world-renowned European brands as well as own brands under Farmstar. Farmchemie has already established their presence in numerous international markets such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kuwait, Lebanon, UAE, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, Cambodia and Uganda. FAMI-QS will enable them to expand their markets including the European and USA.

“We are honoured to announce that Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan-owned company to be certified with FAMI-QS in combination with ISO 9001: 2015 and Good Manufacturing Practices certification for animal feeding. By attaining FAMI-QS, we are able to anticipate the expectations of our clients for safe, high-quality goods by lowering the related risk and enhancing the quality of onsite feeds via a supply chain that is properly guaranteed. For that Farmchemie implements measures for Feed Fraud and Feed Defense according to FAMI-QS supply chain integrity module V2. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our customers and suppliers for their continued support and dedication. We look forward to elevating the firm to new heights in the coming months and years, as our aims will always be centered on quality assurance and innovative manufacturing.” Managing Director Uditha Wanigasinghe stated.

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Exports Gold Award for Textrip

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Textrip Pvt Ltd, the export arm of the Elasto Group, was recently recognized, as the gold award winner for rubber and rubber-based products, medium scale category at the NCE Export Awards ceremony held recently in Colombo. The Chairman and Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera accepted the award at the gala event held at Shangri La Hotel. The national export awards ceremony, organized by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), recognizes and rewards Sri Lankan exporters on their performance in the international market.

“We always strive to manufacture high-quality rubber-based goods, using the latest technology, adhering to the highest international standards, and showcasing Sri Lanka on the global stage. I would like to thank our clients, locally and internationally for their continuous trust and my staff for their hard work and dedication. They are the pillars of our success,” Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera stated. Textrip products have obtained a number of national and international quality standards such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, CET, REACH and their products are designed to adhere to the ‘Wellness Wisdom’ theme. The company works with over 100 top sports and wellness brands and exports to more than 30 countries including European countries and the United States. TEXSTRETCH Progressive Exercise Resistance Bands is one of the most popular products of the company. The product is a great full-body workout solution for users of any level.

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Sri Lanka Tourism returns to Spanish market after pandemic

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Spain is one of the fastest recovery markets for Sri Lanka Tourism after the pandemic and participation in FITUR argues well for the much-needed exposure for Sri Lanka as an attractive tourism destination for Spanish-speaking countries, contributing in a substantive manner to its overall growth strategy. Sri Lanka Tourism made the presence with the 28 private sector companies at 43rd edition of FITUR International Travel Mart which was held from 18- 22 January 2023, Madrid, Spain. FITUR is the largest tourism event in the Spanish Market where all the sectors leisure, business and MICE tourism meet under one roof.

Sri Lanka Tourism stall was ceremonially opened by Mr.Chalaka Gajabahu ,Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka in Barcelona, Mr. Agustin Llana and representatives of the leading private sector members of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was able to attract high level of attention from the trade and travel visitors attended at the event. The Sri Lanka pavilion highlighted many aspects of its potential culture, beauty, Ayurveda and many more which Sri Lanka would offer as a tourism destination. Sri Lanka stand optimized the “So Sri Lanka” and “Visit Sri Lanka” vivid sights to attract the potential visitor segments. At the Sri Lanka pavilion, Ceylon tea was served for the visitors with a view of promoting Ceylon tea in the Spanish market.

On the sideline of the FITUR travel fair, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Burau officials participated at the events organized by the UNWTO. During the events, SLTPB officials met with the Mr.Harry Hwang , Director of Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO.As a result of discussions, Mr.Harry Hwang has shown the interest to hold the UNWTO Joint commission in Sri Lanka in 2024.

Meantime, the SLTPB and Sri Lanka Embassy of France also took steps to arrange Business Meetings, exclusive media interviews, Air Line meetings at the FITUR 2023. The Media gathering conducted during the fair created the great opportunity to highlight the updates on the destination and create awareness on the destination.

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