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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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SLT-MOBITEL powers ANANKE IoT Services to shine at Globee® Awards

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider, is proud to announce its partner ANANKE IoT Services (Pvt) Ltd has been conferred a Gold award under the ‘Start-up of the Year – IT Category’ at the 16th Annual 2021 IT World Awards. Organizers of the world’s premier business awards programs and business ranking lists, The Globee® Awards; recognised ANANKE IoT’s Smart Bins Project, powered by NB-IoT technology from SLT-MOBITEL, the undisputed leader of IoT services and related digital transformation in Sri Lanka.

SLT-MOBITEL’s NB-IoT network enables the entire device connectivity chain of the Smart Bins Project and is Sri Lanka’s only such network to-date. NB-IoT is the GSMA standard for Low-Power-Wide-Area Internet of Things connectivity, which is particularly suited to ensure the battery life of a sensor extends to up to 10 years. As the only telco to offer this advanced technology in Sri Lanka, SLT-MOBITEL was perfectly positioned to support ANANKE IoT Services for quick deployment of its Smart Bins solution. This is the first large-scale NB-IoT enabled hardware project in Sri Lanka and utilizes, ANANKE IoT’s in-house built proprietary platform. (SLT)

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Dialog Television extends access to Nenasa and Guru TV education channels free of charge

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Furthering its efforts to ensure that no child is left behind in continuing their education, Dialog Axiata Group, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, extended free access to its education bouquet Nenasa Sinhala, Nenasa Tamil and Guru TV channels through Dialog Television and ViU App.

Despite the learning loss that ensued the pandemic, Dialog remains committed in its resolve to ensuring that children across the country have equitable access to education. Both Dialog Television prepaid and postpaid customers can access these channels for free. Nenasa Sinhala (Ch. 24) and Nenasa Tamil (Ch. 25) cover grade 3 to 13 Government syllabi, while Guru TV (Ch. 22) covers grade 5 to 13 Government syllabi, all conducted by qualified teachers with immersive, engaging and innovative teaching techniques. Furthermore, this education channel bouquet and over 160 supplementary lessons and educational content can also be accessed via ViU App on any smartphone, ViU Hub and ViU Mini for free, without any data charges on the Dialog network.

Commenting, Chirantha De Zoysa, Head of Business – Dialog Television said, “Extending Nenasa Sinhala, Nenasa Tamil and Guru TV education channels for free is part of our overarching efforts in providing schoolchildren across the country with equitable access to education to achieve their aspirations. While the pandemic has magnified the disparities in education and underscored the importance of inclusive education, Dialog remains resolute in continuing to bridge this gap.”

This is yet another initiative by Dialog in its continued efforts of supporting students across the country with their educational endeavours. In addition to this initiative, Dialog powers a range of educational platforms under the Nenasa initiative; Nenasa TV, Nenasa Smart School, Nenasa App and the toll-free Nenasa 1916 distance learning helpline. Dialog also endeavoured to provide 100,000 schoolchildren in need with Data Scholarships under the ‘NanaDiri Data Scholarship’ programme to facilitate their online learning from home. Furthermore, the company extended free access without any data charges to e-Thaksalawa, the National Learning Content Management System (LCMS)/Learning Management System (LMS) and to all official e-Learning platforms of State Universities under the purview of the University Grants Commission.

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Allianz Insurance and HSBC Sri Lanka partner to offerworld-class insurance products to HSBC Premier customers

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Allianz Insurance Limited (Allianz Lanka) has entered into an agreement with HSBC Sri Lanka to offer the bank’s affluent customers two world-class insurance products with flexible 0% installment plans, namely Global Health Medical Insurance that provides high quality healthcare services worldwide, and Student Companion to provide insurance solutions for students travelling overseas for education. These new offerings are part of a 10-year exclusive bancassurance distribution agreement signed between the Allianz Group and HSBC covering key markets in Asia such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Sri Lanka.

In recent times, increases in the cost of living and unexpected medical expenses due to the pandemic, have put pressure on many customers and their families. Due to these uncertainties, customers are looking for the assurance of a safety net, which protects their loved ones, both locally and overseas. Value added services such as international family care support with access to advice from overseas doctors/international care specialists have proven to be even more valuable today for customers.

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