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How a young entrepreneur finds worth in plastic waste

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PET bottles collected by Pathum’s team before transporting it to Eco Spindles facility in Horana

Pathum’s love towards keeping the environment plastic-free drives his passion for implementing a viable system for waste collection in Sri Lanka

International Youth Day is a reminder to recognise the initiatives of young people whose meaningful contributions will have a lasting impact on global developmental efforts. Celebrated every year on the 12th of August, Youth Day magnifies the actions of young people who aspire to repair the earth we live in, through their entrepreneurial decisions to solve the world’s most pressing issues.

As industrialisation and population increase, Sri Lanka is battling a threatening matter; the growth in irresponsible plastic waste disposal/management. Plastic consumption on the island sees a 16% increase, where 265,000 metric tons are consumed annually. Realising the damage this could cause, a young entrepreneur, Pathum Niranjana, started P&L Industries based in Athurugiriya in 2011 at the age of 20 to collect PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic and other plastics.

A labour of love

Now, 30, he recalled why he started the company, attributing it to the love he has for keeping the environment free of plastic waste. “Before starting P&L Industries, I worked for a company that collected PET plastic. I noticed that plastic was everywhere, from the sides of the road to the waterways. I then realised that I needed to venture out and diversify my business by not only limiting it to collecting PET plastic but also other types of plastic waste, too,” mentioned Pathum.

On a typical day, he deploys his team to collect and purchase waste plastic from municipal councils in the Western Province, after the respective municipalities collect from households and offices. Depending on the plastics’ quality, he buys PET bottles from municipal collectors for Rs. 20-30 a kilo and other plastics (HDPE and PP) for Rs. 60-70 a kilo. Every month, his team collects approximately 450,000 PET bottles and 70-80 metric tons of other plastics, then sold to recyclers to create value-added products. One such is Sri Lanka’s largest plastic recycler, Eco Spindles, who also assisted P&L Industries by giving a loan during the pandemic when collectors like Pathum saw a reduction in income.

Though his business operations are now thriving, Pathum faced multiple challenges as a young business owner. When he started, establishing the business was problematic due to the lack of people/businesses with the necessary expertise in waste collection. Additionally, he required a team of employees who understood the trade while securing funds to buy a space to store plastic waste collected.

Reversing stigmas

“Furthermore, an issue we faced then, and even now, is the stigma behind waste collectors as many people think it’s a 3rd class business. But, it’s a business where you can make profits while also doing a service to the environment and our island home. Most have stigmatised the job as just a role of a bothal paththara karaya, but the industry and the role has evolved into a formal employment opportunity,” highlighted Pathum.

Despite these challenges, Pathum persevered to see his dream materialise and reverse the stigma. Today, he owns four vehicles to collect, purchase and transport plastic to recyclers and has employed 15 people. “I have plans to grow my waste collection business. I want to include components of a recycling facility. So I bought a crusher machine to crush PET plastic into pellets, which I can sell to organisations that can make products such as yarn and crush HDPE plastic to make Alkathene pipes used in agriculture,” stated Pathum.

An opportunity to thrive

On his journey to expand P&L Industries, he believes Sri Lanka can thrive in the waste collection sector since COVID-19 has restricted imports. “If imported, PET pellets cost between Rs. 300-400 a kilo, while locally, I can sell to companies for Rs.150 a kilo. Because of this, it is important to know that banning PET bottles is not practical since we don’t have a cost-effective alternative. Glass is too costly and difficult to transport,” indicated Pathum.

Pathum is a reminder that hard work and dedication are key pillars to success. Astonished that plastic waste is becoming a widely recognisable problem, he is on a quest to be part of a system that can provide viable solutions to this issue. “If collectors like myself do not collect and buy plastic waste, we run the risk of releasing the waste to open dumps/landfills, instead of sending it to recyclers who can give it new life,” emphasised Pathum.

Recycling ensures that a circular economy is established where the value of plastic bottles continues indefinitely. Pathum, as a collector, has become an integral part of this sustainable way of doing business.



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LOLC becomes Mastercard’s first customer in Sri Lanka to join its Digital First programme

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iPay, a unique payment aggregator introduced by LOLC – Sri Lanka’s most valuable and globally diversified financial conglomerate has become the first entity in Sri Lanka to sign up for the Digital First program, launched by Mastercard. The Digital First program was initiated to facilitate an end-to-end digital journey benefiting Cardholders, Merchants and Financial Institutions. It was introduced to meet the rising demand for convenient and secure transactions around the world.

Mastercard’s Digital First program maximizes the safety, security and convenience of e-commerce, online banking and contactless transactions by providing the guidelines for payment processors, fintechs (Financial Technology), issuing banks and other partners to create end-to-end digital payment options at scale. Through this digital enablement, iPay offers a host of features including instant gratification for users through streamlined card issuance, activation and payments whilst offering them better rewards. User choice is a key priority of the Mastercard Digital First program as users are offered the choice to pay with any bank’s account or card that they prefer. They are also able to pay anywhere, anytime by leveraging Mastercard’s existing global acceptance, for both card and account based payments. Furthermore, safety and security are ensured to the utmost using security tools to protect users throughout all online and offline transactions. In addition, the controls system enables them to monitor spends, along with alerts on usage, allowing them to manage their spends threshold.

Commenting about iPay’s latest initiative, Conrad Dias, Director/Chief Executive Officer of LOLC Finance PLC said, “iPay is currently on a rapid transformation drive and the Mastercard Digital First program supplements that effort. In Sri Lanka, iPay has garnered over 100,000 users and it allows a wide range of financial transactions. Today, the app has also been successfully launched in Cambodia with implementation plans already in place for Myanmar, Pakistan and Indonesia. Since iPay is expanding internationally, getting on board with the Mastercard Digital First program will further enable our customers and merchants not only here in Sri Lanka but even in the overseas markets in which we operate to avail themselves of a new world of convenience.”

“Mastercard congratulates LOLC on its iPay digital payment platform joining the Digital First Program, thereby bringing about unparalleled convenience to users. Even as LOLC looks to introduce iPay to even more countries, Mastercard is very happy to support them with their growth plans for iPay in the region,” said Rajesh Mani, Country Manager, Sri Lanka & Maldives, Mastercard.

“iPay is the market leader in Sri Lanka in terms of customer acquisition and transaction volumes. We see the app growing further as contactless transactions and digital banking is increasing in popularity. By joining the Mastercard Digital First program, we hope to offer a best in class experience to all our customers and merchants,” said Charitha Jayasingha, Head of iPay.

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OPPO marks its 17th anniversary

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Global leader in smartphones & devices OPPO marked its 17th anniversary on September 17. Over the past decade, OPPO has graduated from its position as a smartphone manufacturer to an innovator and trailblazer in the smart device domain with several contributions to its merit. The company continues to expand its global footprint through its offering of high quality, aesthetically designed tech products and services to partners & users.

Commenting on the milestone, CEO of OPPO Sri Lanka Bob Li said: “On the occasion of OPPO completing 17 years of business operations, I would like to extend a sincere ‘thank you’ to all Sri Lankan customers, fans & well-wishers. It is your enthusiasm that has fuelled our passion to innovate. Our goal is to ensure that we continue to make global technology accessible to you locally for affordable prices without compromising on quality.” OPPO has expanded to over 50 countries and territories over the years catering to diverse interests with its impressive offering of smartphones & devices. This year, OPPO experienced a series of breakthroughs across frontier technologies of 5G, imaging and VOOC Flash Charging. OPPO hosted a flash charging partner conference at the 2021 Mobile World Congress in Shanghai (MWCS) showcasing a host of innovations in device charging, 5G connectivity and smart technology.

2021 also saw OPPO’s Flash Initiative bringing together a host of innovators from several sectors such as leaders in automotive (FAW-Volkswagen), portable chargers (Anker), and chip manufacturing (NXP Semiconductors), with each company licensing OPPO patented designs.

OPPO introduced its newly generated AR application CybeReal which elevates Augmented Reality to the next level through spatial computing. This year OPPO also hosted the 2021 OPPO Future Imaging Technology Launch Event where a series of breakthroughs in smartphone imaging technology focused on upgrades to sensors, modules, and algorithms were unveiled.

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Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing launches SLIM DIGIS 2.1

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Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM), the national body for marketing in Sri Lanka, recently launched SLIM DIGIS 2.1, the country’s most awaited digital awards ceremony in a virtual press conference held on the 16th of September 2021.

Held for the third consecutive year, SLIM DIGIS is the only dedicated awards event that recognizes the innovations, budding talents and provides due recognition to professionals of the Digital Marketing sector. The awards event recognizes the best Digital Marketing achievements across multiple sectors including Banking & Finance, Insurance, Telecommunication, IT & Internet, Leisure & Hospitality and Travel & Tourism.

Similar to the previous year, DIGIS 2.1 will feature the main awards and special awards categories. This year will also see the inauguration of two new special awards: the ‘Best Response to COVID-19’ category will recognize the best Digital Marketing initiatives which turned challenges faced in the new normal into opportunities by engaging customers and thereby leveraging the business trajectory. The ‘Best Use of Data’ category will focus on recognizing the best-in-class digital campaigns driven or enhanced by data, and will be open to any idea that has used data in a meaningful way to craft creative marketing mix integrations into the core of their campaigns. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hinder businesses around the world, the new award additions will add further value to recognizing the efforts taken by Digital Marketing professionals to stay ahead of the curve.

Commenting on the SLIM DIGIS 2.1, Thilanka Abeywardena – President of SLIM said, “We are indeed proud to launch our premier Digital Marketing awards ceremony for the third year running. We were thrilled to see the number of entries received during the last year’s event despite the challenges faced in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being the only awards ceremony dedicated to the Digital Marketing fraternity, we want the Digital Marketing professionals and companies to make this rare opportunity count. At this crucial and challenging point in time, it is of utmost importance that Digital marketers produce their best work in order to ensure business continuity. Since its inception, SLIM DIGIS has been fueling the Digital Marketing industry while providing a platform for the due recognition of the industry’s best achievements.”

The winners of SLIM DIGIS 2.1 will be awarded with Gold, Silver and Bronze awards and the Grand Prix will be awarded to the enterprise/company, which achieves the highest score in both the main awards and special awards categories. SLIM DIGIS 2.1 will host an independent judging panel which consists of esteemed industry professionals.

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