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A plastic intervention in Arugam Bay  

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The beach and the ocean are both idyllic escapes for many. It can appeal to one’s senses, from swimming in the sea to exploring sea life or pressing one’s feet against the wet beach sands. However, enjoying such pleasures becomes problematic when the beaches and ocean are polluted due to anthropogenic activities. 

A study submitted to the Marine Pollution Bulletin in 2020 stated that factors contributing to Sri Lanka’s pervasive environmental issues stem from fisheries, mismanaged harbour operations, and tourism. There are people and organizations in Sri Lanka involved in mitigating and providing solutions to improper plastic waste management by reversing these misdoings.  

Waste Less Arugam Bay (WLAB) is one such entity focused on building a green and sustainable tourist destination in Arugam Bay. Founded in 2018, Hendrik Konzok, founder and director of WLAB, was operating a manufacturing company, Rice and Carry, making bags and fashion accessories from upcycled materials. During this time, businesses and tourists in Arugam Bay suggested that WLAB upcycle discarded plastic bottles.

Henry and his team saw the value in collecting plastic bottles for recycling. WLAB was then established to educate and collect plastic waste disposed of improperly. “Tourism is one of the largest contributors to the waste plastic issue. The increase in plastic pollution in A’bay is due to the rise in the need for bottled water consumption by tourists,” stated Hendrik. 

He also noted that before the COVID-19 outbreak, over 5000 tourists traveled to Arugam Bay per day. Henry’s team would find about 5000 – 15,000 PET bottles discarded irresponsibly onto roads and waterways. COVID-19 has drastically reduced the amount of PET waste discarded in Arugam Bay, owning to a drop in tourism and island-wide travel restrictions. 

A WLAB truck is deployed every day to collect plastic from all across Arugam Bay. Waste is then brought back to the facility for bailing before sending it to Eco Spindles, Sri Lanka’s largest plastic recycler. Henry and other collectors like him also earn by handing waste plastics for the recycling giant. “WLAB is an intervention. We want to educate tourists on waste management so they know the importance of ensuring that plastic waste is disposed of properly. We are in the business of changing people’s behaviour through awareness,” noted Hendrik. 

Tourists are shown how bottles are compressed before transportation. They are also invited to use the machinery at the WLAB facility to make products such as surfboard wax combs and key tags. These are made out of shredded and melted plastic bottle lids, which creates value perception.

Their mission to educate does not stop there. WLAB houses a water filtration system in their facility where tourists can refill their bottles. The bottle is placed on a balance, and when it is refilled to one litre, the balance tips. Then the opposite end of the balance shows that by filling a bottle, they have mitigated using seven litres of water, 200 grams of oil, and other resources needed to manufacture one PET bottle. “We noticed between 2018 and 2019 that businesses offering refills grew from 8 places to 20 places, which is great to see,” remarked Hendrik. 

Knowing the value WLAB creates in Arugam Bay, Eco Spindles also provides recycled polyester yarn that WLAB sources to make tote bags out of recycled plastic. “Though we are still in the product development phase, we thank Eco Spindles for sending us polyester yarn to test. This provides opportunities to the cottage and village level industries in craft, to create jobs and build livelihoods,” praised Hendrik. Using discarded plastics, Eco Spindles produces value-added products. This includes polyester yarn for global apparel brands and monofilaments for some of the world’s biggest brush producers.

WLAB also looks at innovatively combatting pollution through a plastic credit system when plastic is collected by working with Pristine Ocean and Empower.eco. “Any company in the world with a plastic footprint who wants to become plastic neutral can measure how many kilos they are releasing to the environment. These companies can then buy the same amount of plastic to be removed from the environment through organizations like mine. This money then enables us to do commercial level beach clean-ups in Arugam Bay,” noted Hendrik. 

This is the story of an organization that is educating and offering solutions to waste-related issues. The efforts of Henry’s team will be fruitless if strides are not taken to have stronger legislation. Corporations and people need to be held accountable for the mismanagement of plastic waste. Governments and local authorities must have proper infrastructure and incentives to improve the collection and disposal of plastic. We need to be conscious, and we need your support! 



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MN Group becomes the Best Business of the Year at Pinnacals Awards

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The MN Group won the Best Business of the Year Award at the Pinnacals Sri Lanka award ceremony at the Waters Edge Hotel, Battaramulla. Managing Director of MN Group of Companies (www.mngroup.lk), Roshan Wewage accepted the award on behalf of the organization. MN Group of Companies has previously won many awards including Lanka Business Awards (LBA) and Shramabimani.

Customers can obtain any construction related service from MN Group at a reasonable price. The company is also willing to finish half completed houses and commercial buildings at agreeable terms. MN Group understands that the tough economic circumstances have placed great pressure on the people and the company is committed to understanding their needs and to provide a warm and professional service. Roshan Wewage invited those who need to renovate their buildings to reach out to them.

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Dilmah Adjudged Best Corporate Citizen for the Third Consecutive Year

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Dilmah was awarded ‘Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability’ in the category of Businesses with Less than Rs. 15 Billion Annual Turnover, for the third consecutive year at the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability (BCCS) Awards organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; recognizing that Dilmah has successfully achieved a sustainable balance between social, environmental, and economic performanc, a company news release said.

Evaluated by an independent & expert panel of judges, the awards are Sri Lanka’s most prestigious, scrutinizing and recognizing ethical and sustainable businesses. Dilmah was honoured as one of ten ‘Best Corporate Citizens’ of Sri Lanka, won the Award in the Environment Beyond Business Category, and was lauded for continuous commitment to the environment surpassing the realms of business.

“The annual BCCS Awards is the premier corporate citizenship award, highlights sustainability champions in the national corporate arena. The awards promote corporate citizen sustainability ownership and initiatives that deliver social and environmental benefits while pursuing profits. This recognition validates Dilmah’s emphasis on delivering social and environmental impact by sharing earnings through the work of the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation,” the release said.

“In 1988, Merrill J. Fernando founded Dilmah, a family business, to serve humanity with kindness to people and nature, while sharing his passion for taste and goodness in tea. Over the years Dilmah has delivered over Rs. 7 billion for humanitarian benefit through the work of its charitable arm MJF Foundation and environmental arm Dilmah Conservation.

“Ensuring economic, social, and environmental sustainability exists at the heart of its operations and is integrated to every operational aspect of the business, Dilmah’s purpose is further extended through the work of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJF Foundation) and Dilmah Conservation (DC) by driving life-impacting initiatives.

“The MJF Foundation works directly with estate workers and underprivileged communities to uplift lives and empower them to pay-it-forward to their communities. Some of its core initiatives are the countrywide MJF centres, small-medium enterprises with over 2,000 small entrepreneurs, ‘Empower’ Culinary & Hospitality School, and ‘disABILITY’ teletherapy app.

“The sustainable development of people goes hand-in-hand with the planet. Dilmah Tea is a carbon neutral product manufactured at a carbon neutral facility. Further, Dilmah has pledged to achieve zero-emissions for its manufacturing process by 2030 through science-based targets. Dilmah Conservation functions under three main categories: environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and education and awareness. As such, Dilmah Conservation initiatives range from butterfly to elephant conservation, climate research, adaptation and mitigation, rewilding tea gardens, conserving mangrove forests, and promoting nature-based entrepreneurship through seaweed cultivation and empowering agro-entrepreneurs.”

Winning the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2022 is considered a top honour in the Sri Lankan corporate field. Each year, submissions are evaluated by an eminent panel of local experts, thought leaders, and academics. Dilmah considers receiving the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2022 an important milestone in its journey as a truly sustainable brand with a purpose beyond profit.

Across the shores, Dilmah has been recognized for its attempt to take Ayurvedic wellness and goodness to the world with the help of tea. The Arana Range of Herbal Infusion Teas was voted the Product of the Year 2022 in Australia. Meanwhile, Dilmah on its 7th Consecutive Year was awarded Most Trusted Brand in New Zealand in 2022.

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DSI Tyres bags two awards at SLIM Brand Excellence 2022

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Sri Lanka’s premium tyre brand, DSI Tyres won two prestigious awards at the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2022, held recently in Colombo. DSI Tyres, who has already made a mark in the international markets too, won the Silver Award under the Product Brand of the Year category and the Bronze Award under the Local Brand of the Year category. These mark another important milestone in the company’s journey spanning three decades. DSI Tyres has also remained within the top three brands in Sri Lanka for three consecutive years, a significant achievement in a very competitive arena.

DSI Tyres’ role as a leading local tyre manufacturing company that continues to promote its brand in an eco-friendly manner through the use of state-of-the-art technology and continuous research and development which enables them to identify customer needs in a timely manner is the key reason behind its continuous achievements. DSI Tyres has been able to place its products optimally among the local and international customers using the latest marketing strategies. The company also places great emphasis on sustainability and has been able to expand its local and international market share maintaining continuous customer loyalty even at the most difficult periods. DSI tyres are becoming increasingly popular in the online sphere as well, due to the facilitation of online orders at the convenience of customers as well as the use of attractive digital marketing. “DSI Tyres has a special place in the people’s hearts.

We have won the people’s trust and it is the highest award we can receive. It is a great privilege for us to receive these awards, which a mark of appreciation for the work we do to maintain customer loyalty,” Managing Director of DSI Tyres Kavinda Rajapaksa said. SLIM Brand Excellence Awards is the Sri Lanka’s premier celebration of Sri Lankan brands that rewards the outstanding efforts of marketers. This gala event for this year was held at Grand Monarch Hotel, Colombo. The Chairman of DSI Tyres, Ranatunga Rajapaksa received the two awards on behalf of the company. Previously, DSI Tyres had won SLIM Turnaround Brand of the Year, Product Brand of the Year, Local Brand of the Year and many SLIM DIGIs awards.

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