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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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Dulux colours Architect 2023 exhibition with vibrant and engaging presence



Dulux -Sri Lanka’s, a leading manufacturer of paints and coatings – is celebrating the successful close of its participation at Architect 2023, also taking home an award for the ‘Best Trade Stall with Innovative Use of Colour’.

Organised by the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects -and now in its 41st year- this year’s edition of the Architect 2023 annual trade fair took place from February 24-26 at the BMICH, and witnessed greater participation from leading companies and entrepreneurs actively involved in the various construction and architecture sectors; both locally and internationally, a company news release said.

“Dulux established a strong presence at the event with a spectacular exhibit themed Colour Futures ’23, featuring its 2023 Colour of the Year: Wild Wonder. Visitors to the stand were able to explore the four colour palettes, Lush, Buzz, Raw and Flow, inspired by the nature-influenced theme, with Dulux colour experts on hand providing unique trade insight, and also advising visitors on how best the shades can be implemented into their own work and living spaces,” it said.

“The popular mascot, “Dulux Dog” was also present to playfully engage with exhibition attendees and brighten up the vibrant Dulux stall even further. The Dulux exhibit proved widely popular among attendees to Architect 2023, due to its powerful display of colour in both interior & Exterior spaces. “

“Architect 2023 was a great opportunity for Dulux to learn from fellow trade professionals, and also to introduce visitors to the latest trends and insights from the global paints and coatings landscape,” said Upendra Gunawardhana, Head of Marketing at AkzoNobel Paints Sri Lanka. “We’ve maintained a strong long-standing relationship with the SLIA, and have every intention of being back again next year as well.”

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ACCA reaffirms ComBank as Best among Sri Lankan banks for Sustainable Reporting



Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Mr S. Prabagar (third from left) receives the ACCA award. The Bank’s Deputy General Manager – Retail Banking & Marketing Mr Hasrath Munasinghe (second from right) and Senior Manager – Sustainability, Women’s Banking & CSR Mrs Kamalini Ellawala (extreme right) are also in the picture

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was declared the best among all Sri Lankan banks in sustainability reporting at the Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards for 2022 presented by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Sri Lanka.

As the winner in the ‘Banking’ category Commercial Bank was recognised for being one of the most transparent, accountable, and responsible entities in the country. The award was presented for the Bank’s 2021 Annual Report titled ‘Beyond a shape, beyond a colour’ which among other aspects, explores the Bank’s evolving operating context in which social and environmental concerns are brought to the centre of its corporate agenda.

Prepared in line with the International <IR> framework, this Annual Report also presents the Bank’s social and environmental impacts as per the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards: Core option. Additionally, it reports on the Bank’s contribution towards the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals.

The Report also features a dedicated section on ‘Business model for sustainable value creation’ and discloses information on loans screened through the Bank’s Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS), paper reduction and recycling initiatives, increased usage of renewable energy, and switching to energy-efficient appliances under the section on ‘Natural Capital.’ Indicators of value derived in this category include reduced energy consumption in gigajoules, number of facilities subjected to SEMS screening, number of new solar panel installation locations, number of internet banking and mobile banking users, and solar power generated as a percentage of energy consumption.

Commercial Bank’s high standards in comprehensive reporting area result of the Bank’s commitment to being a responsible financial entity and shaping its work ethics around sustainable business practices, the Bank said. Last year too, Commercial Bank topped the ACCA awards in the Banking category, in addition to winning the overall award for the Best Sustainability Report of 2020.

Notably, Commercial Bank’s 2021 Annual Report also won four awards including a Gold for ‘Interior Design,’ and a Bronze for ‘Interactive Annual Report’ at the 2022 edition of the MerComm ARC Awards which is the world’s largest annual report competition.

The Bank’s sustainability initiatives include lending to support sustainable and green operations, migrating customers to paperless banking, improving efficiency in the use of energy, water and other resources in its own operations and supporting community initiatives that help conserve habitats and the environment. Its support to a mangrove restoration project in Koggala and marine turtle conservation initiative in Panama are examples of its commitment to environmental conservation.

The Bank pioneered a mandatory social and environmental screening process for its project lending activities and was the first bank in Sri Lanka to venture into Green Financing. It also revolutionised digital banking by introducing features in its ‘Flash’ mobile application to measure and offset customer impact on the environment.

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Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC prioritizes psychological wellbeing in view of Women’s Day



Seen here are a few women at Ex-Pack cutting the cake

In view of the marking the International Women’s Day, Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC held an insightful event at their state-of-the-art factory premises in Kelaniya, highlighting the importance of psychological wellbeing and how Ex-Pack is taking up measures in ensuring an enabling environment for its 300 strong workforce, based on its wider DEI policies.

Various global studies have shown that women are impacted at much higher rates than men when it comes to mental illnesses. The session celebrated their achievements and life stories, and shared some eye-opening tips, facts, know how’s, to-dos, and various other influential factors including the dire need to change our perspectives on women’s roles, health and wellness. This also touched upon the emotional and social aspects of wellbeing too.

This year’s theme is centered on #EmbraceEquity, and Ex-Pack is no stranger when it comes to pursuing gender equality in an industry that has been traditionally dominated by male. As one of leading corrugated cartons manufacturer in Sri Lanka delivering end-to-end packaging solutions to both local and international clientele, and a subsidiary of Aberdeen Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Ex-Pack actively encourages more female participation.

‘With this year’s theme being #EmbraceEquity, we take great pride in being an ambassador and role model in our industry. We go beyond just equal opportunities to pro-actively collaborate with everyone, to ensure that our talented women have every possible resource at their disposal and are given all the required support to succeed both professionally and personally,’ said M. Zulficar Ghouse, Managing Director- Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC

Ex-Pack has long been engaged with providing equal career opportunities, and both men and women

are respected, rewarded and compensated equally. The company also has an open-door policy for all employees. Women empowerment stems directly from the top leadership, recognizing that women and their strengths are crucial to both the company and the overall economy.

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