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A PET collector’s journey amidst a raging pandemic



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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U.S. confident SL would ensure required facilitation for U.S. investors



Sri Lankan government has pledged to address the pending policy issues and I am confident that once the pandemic subsides, concrete efforts will begin to improve ease of doing business and ensure the required facilitation for US investors, Martin Kelly, Charge d’ Affairs of the Embassy of the United States of America in Sri Lanka said recently speaking at the Sri Lanka Invest Forum 2021 held virtually through June 7-9, 2021

“Sri Lanka was among the first countries in the region to open its economy and offers the highest standards of living among other advanced indicators in South Asia. Over the last seventeen years, the country continued to transition from an agriculture commodity based economy to become world leader in textile and apparel, a major exporter of IT and communication related services and of course a world class destination for international tourists,” he said.

“Promoting trade and investment opportunities is one of the embassy’s top priorities, and a vital component of our efforts to encourage private sector led development and toward stronger ties between the two countries,” he said.

Kelly said that the government of Sri Lanka has promoted pro-business policies including tax benefits, to attract the U.S. and other foreign direct investments.



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ComBank donates ICU beds to Kegalle Teaching Hospital



Commercial Bank Chairman Justice K. Sripavan and Managing Director S. Renganathan with representatives of the Bank and the Kegalle Hospital

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has donated three Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to the Teaching Hospital Kegalle, which receives over 80,000 admissions and 350,000 clinic visits, annually. The donation was made following a request from the hospital and will help it to provide seamless healthcare services to prevent non-pandemic related morbidities and mortalities while also treating patients who are COVID-19 positive.

The CSR Trust of the Bank has already gifted medical equipment and gear including Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, face masks, surgical masks, hand sanitisers, Slit lamps, pulse oximeters, multipara monitors and oxygen concentrators to over 16 government hospitals. Commercial Bank also made a monetary donation to the National COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund set up by the government last year.

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Trading activity gets slower among retail investors



Lankem Ceylon Rights Issue undersubscribed.

By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

Stock trading at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) was marginally positive yesterday and the number of retail investor participation was lower compared to previous trading days. Index heavy LOLC group which accounted for more than 30 percent of the turnover, contributed 20 points to the All Share Price Index, stock market analysts said.

Both indices moved upwards. All Share Price Index was up by 35.75 points and S&P SL20 up by 2.01 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.74 billion sans a single crossing. In the retail market top six companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were LOLC Rs 510 million (1.28 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 197 million (4.1 million shares traded), Melstacorp Rs 137 million (2.6 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 71.5 million (11.3 million shares traded), Windforce Rs 68.2 million (3.5 million shares traded) and Hayleys Holdings Rs 54.8 million (730,000 shares traded).

Index heavy LOLC, which contributed 20 points to the All Share Price Index, appreciated its share price by Rs 18.75 or 4.85 percent. Its share price started trading at Rs 386.25 and at the end of the day it moved up to Rs 405.

A pioneer in renewable energy, Vidullanka PLC has successfully completed raising additional capital of Rs. 253 million to fuel its expansion drive in the solar power sphere.

Lankem Ceylon Plc, Rs. 677 million worth Rights Issue has been undersubscribed. When the issue closed the Company managed to draw only subscriptions for 17.6 million shares worth Rs. 352.3 million. The original plan was to issue 33.85 million shares at Rs. 20 each aiming at raising Rs. 677 million. The basis was one new ordinary share for every one share held. Funds were to be raised to augment working capital requirements.

During the day 67.9 million share volumes changed hands in 17564 share transactions.

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