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Bottle-to-bottle recycling can boost Sri Lanka in the transition to circularity in plastics



By Amila Abeynayaka

Dr. Abeynayaka is a Policy Researcher currently attached to the IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan.

Pollution caused by the irresponsible disposal of plastics is a significant issue, particularly in developing countries like Sri Lanka.

According to Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society, it is estimated that only 9% of all plastics ever produced globally has been recycled. This is particularly concerning since according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), all nations collectively produce about 300 million metric tonnes of plastic every year – nearly equivalent in weight to that of the entire global human population.

However, not all plastics are equal in this equation. Polyethene terephthalate (PET) plastics, in particular, stand out, given that they are 100% recyclable. PET is considered the most promising food-packaging plastic for recycling and is used extensively for this purpose, particularly for the production of bottles containing drinks, hand sanitisers, dishwashing liquid etc. In addition, PET is more suitable for the recycling process, given its ability to minimise the possibility of contamination following consumption.

Hence, in sharp contrast with the overall recycling rate of plastics, PET bottle recycling rates in some countries exceed 80%. Sri Lanka also aspires to increase its PET bottle collection and recycling rate from 27% to 100% by 2025 to ‘ensure safe, high-quality and durable products,’ as per the National Action Plan on Plastic Waste Management in Sri Lanka (NAPPWM).

The changes required

Technology is not a constraint and is already available within the country. However, achieving this target requires crosscutting enabling conditions, including legal arrangements and policy changes, stakeholder engagement and dialogue, public participation, financing, and capacity development.

Legal and policy changes are necessary for a crucial shift towards bottle-to-bottle recycling. This relates to recycling an entire PET bottle to produce a new PET bottle, a concept that has been successfully implemented in many developed regions.

After being used by consumers, the three common scenarios for PET bottles are; bottle-to-bottle recycling, incineration and landfill disposal.

It is clear that bottle-to-bottle recycling is by far the preferred option among these options. It reduces pollution and carries a host of other benefits, including reducing carbon emissions by decreasing the need for new plastics.

However, Sri Lanka doesn’t legally allow recycled products in food-grade manufacture. The Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 1160/30 of 29th June 2010 prohibits the use of ‘any food in any package, appliance, container or vessel that has been made from recycled plastic.’ This reality needs to change and conducive regulations/policies should be introduced.

Implementing the changes

In terms of implementation, bottle-to-bottle recycling can be done through two methods; mechanical and chemical recycling. The first refers to using mechanical processes (which typically involve cleaning, grinding, re-melting, and re-granulating). It is considered that through this method, bottle-to-bottle recycling is possible up to 4 to 6 times for PET plastics.

Chemical recycling, in contrast, uses a chemical process to achieve this objective, to break down the material to its original form for processing and, after that, for the production of new items. This system allows potentially infinite cycles of recycling. Still, it has implications for the comparatively larger generation of carbon emissions associated with transboundary PET waste movements.

Besides the method of recycling that should be employed, another critical consideration is whether bottle-to-bottle recycling carries risks since the plastics could potentially get contaminated, especially in food-grade packaging. For instance, contact between plastics and other waste, such as electronic waste, increases the risk of the presence of toxic metals in recycled plastics.

However, such concerns can be addressed by putting the necessary safeguards in place by adopting models similar to those of developed countries. For instance, in the European Union (EU), recycled plastics used in food contact materials should only be obtained from recycling processes that have been assessed for safety by the European Food Safety Authority and authorised by the European Commission.

Transition to a ‘circular’ model

Such certification ensures the separation of different types of waste, domestic waste collection systems with storage and transportation that avoid contaminations and sound tech-driven recycling. Another alternative exists, too, including chemical recycling to regenerate material similar to virgin material.

However, such efforts require collaboration between and high levels of awareness among all stakeholders. This includes manufacturers and recyclers in the private sector, consumers and the Government. The model used in Japan provides an excellent case study. In this model, consumers ensure proper segregation of used plastic containers and packages, which facilitates the collection of the segregated waste by the Municipal Government. Manufacturers recycle this waste and, after that, use it in products. Hence, all stakeholders play an equally-critical role, which ensures the smooth functioning of the system.

Sri Lanka too can transition to a similar model, with high ‘circularity,’ which involves a ‘closed loop’. In this, the value of plastics is retained through reuse and recycling, not allowing leakage into the environment. This is unlike the present ‘linear’ model in which plastics are used and disposed of, creating significant damage.

Such a model will be beneficial economically – for instance, by reducing foreign exchange lost through imports of plastics each year and socially and environmentally – by reducing pollution and its harmful effects – which includes the likes of the increased spread of diseases such as dengue.

Hence, Sri Lanka should begin the transition towards bottle-to-bottle recycling of PET plastics. However, as indicated, this requires the support of all stakeholders.

The author would appreciate your feedback on the article. You can start a conversation with Dr. Abeynayaka directly on Twitter on @litterlifecycle.

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Transforming “waste” into “resources” once again (a Japanese example)

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SL needs laser-like focus on IMF programme implementation: Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy



Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Governor

‘If it gets suspended, it would have pretty dramatic consequences’

by Sanath Nanayakkare

There are three most important priorities for Sri Lanka in the wake of the IMF Programme; implementation, implementation and implementation of the agreed upon benchmarks of the programme. Last thing we need to suddenly find is that we have gone off the track of the programme and it is suspended, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka said on Friday.

He said so while giving the keynote speech at a Central Bank hosted webinar titled “What is next for Sri Lanka in the wake of IMF Programme?”

Deshal De Mel, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Murtaza Jafferjee, Managing Director, JB Securities, Bingumal Thewarathanthri, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank were the panelists at the forum where the moderator was Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

The following are a few comments made by Dr.Coomaraswamy.

The IMF EFF has now been successfully negotiated. This is in some way the beginning. There is lot more to do. It’s time to start thinking about what happens next. A little under a year ago, there were acute shortages of the most essential good. There were long queues and one or two people passed away while in queue. Prices were skyrocketing and exchange rate was collapsing, inflation was spiking and the Central Bank had to push up interest rates. All this happened only a few months from where we are today. The fact that things have stabilized to a significant extent clearly is a very favourable outcome but actually there is no room for complacency because the stabilization has happened at a low-level equilibrium.

It has happened when the economy experienced a 7.6% contraction last year. It was better than what was anticipated by the IMF and the World Bank, but still it is a very sharp contraction. And we need to get to a situation where we have macro-economic stability with a growth rate of about 4%. There is a lot to be done for this. But this is a very commendable place to get to after all. The Paris Club comprising G7 countries has endorsed our efforts to restore debt sustainability. The non-Paris Club creditors such as India and China also have endorsed and supported our efforts too. So the largest countries and creditors are willing to support Sri Lanka to get back on track in terms of debt sustainability. So this is not a bad place to be.”

“IMF programme implementation has always been a weakness on our part. This time we have already done a lot as prior action but there is more as you would have seen from the documentation tabled in parliament including structural reforms and institutional reform. So we have to have laser-like focus on implementation and move forward with the programme. If the programme gets suspended, it would have pretty dramatic consequences. So we need to keep it on track. We can’t give up the absolutely compelling need for fiscal discipline. What is next for us is; discipline and making the needed economic policy and implementing what e have agreed to do. During our past IMF programmes, the issue was lack of implementation by the Sri Lankan authorities.

Earlier this week Dr. Chandranath Amarasekare, Executive Director at the CBSL arranged for the Irish authorities to brief Sri lankan authorities on the implementation unit set up in Ireland when the global financial crisis hit Ireland which led them to go into an IMF programme. Ireland was meticulous in the way they set up the implementation framework. They identified all the action that had to be taken and assigned parts of it to relevant government entities to implement them. Ireland is back on track now. We need to have the same degree of laser-like focus on implementing the benchmarks. We have to figure out what needs to be done and ascribe responsibility for each action and monitor

carefully how we are going about it. We have to make sue we are hitting all the targets and structural benchmarks as we go along. These are embedded in the IMF programme. Last thing we need is to suddenly find that we have gone off the track of the programme and the programme is suspended. That will constrain the inflows to the country and it will affect the confidence beginning to build up now. All that will get undermined if the programme gets suspended because we are not able to keep it on track. So the Implementation Unit will need a very good authority to reach out to any part of government and get things done. We need this Implementation Unit to be well-structured and running well. And it should have the authority of the President behind it,”he said.

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Exterminators PLC opens a training and R&D center



Exterminators PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier pest tech and environmental tech company, opened a 5,000 plus square foot training, research and development center to enhance the quality of service via in-depth innovation to create a circular economy inorder to meet the growing demand in environmentally sustainable public health pest management, agricultural pest management, livestock, plantation and landscape pest management, sanitation and disinfection services in Sri Lanka and emerging and developing markets. The facility includes simulated environments for training in pest management, termite management, mosquito management, sanitation and disinfection, health and safety for new recruits and continuous professional training and development for existing employees.

The company plans to provide training for international pest management professionals in emerging and developing countries as well as serve as a training facility for its strategic franchising partners in the region.

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SLT-MOBITEL ‘Hosting Cub’ for MSMEs enables critical infrastructure and value-added hosting services



Understanding the importance of supporting Micro, Small, And Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to drive growth and efficiencies, SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider is offering its Hosting Cub – Shared Web Hosting service catering to vital hosting requirements.

SLT-MOBITEL provides hosting facilities for MSMEs with affordable pricing, easy expansion of MSMEs cyber presence and other value-added offerings via its Shared Hosting and Virtual Private Server (VPS) solutions.

The Shared Hosting proposal is offered as the most economical option available for hosting. The overall cost of server maintenance is shared, also catering to low traffic websites that do not require higher bandwidth such as smaller websites and blogs.

The Share Hosting solution is available via four levels – Stellar, Stellar Plus, Stellar Pro and Stellar Business. The ‘Stellar’ package 1 GB VSAN Disk Space to balance storage usage, monthly 20 GB Bandwidth, 2 Mbps speed, 10 websites allowed, secure connection through SSL, FTP Accounts to manage file transfers, Unlimited email accounts, Unlimited MySQL Database to manage data, Unlimited Sub Domains, Hosting in SLT’s state-of-the-art Data Centre and WordPress supported. The pack is priced at only Rs 7500 per annum.

Similarly, the Stellar Plus presents an enhanced package with 2 GB VSAN Disk Space, monthly 40 GB Bandwidth, approval of 15 websites in addition to all the other value-additions. It is priced at Rs 12,000 per year. The Stellar Pro delivers 3 GB VSAN Disk Space, monthly 100 GB Bandwidth and 30 websites allowed while the Stellar Business provides 5 GB VSAN Disk Space, monthly 150GB Bandwidth and 40 websites. All other features are also enabled. The costs for Stellar Pro and Stellar Business are Rs 16,500 and Rs 25,500 respectively, per annum.

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