Striving to promote the use of ‘Preventive platforms’ rather than a ‘Curative platforms’– the brand philosophy of Samahan, a product of Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd launched a holistic programme themed ‘Asiri Surakimu Samanola’, to solve the plastic waste crisis in Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada). Implemented in collaboration with 15 active stakeholders from government institutes, local government institutes and private institutes, the programme initiatives included clean-up activities, engaging pilgrims in clean-up activities and a comprehensive communication and awareness campaign to encourage pilgrims to refrain from polluting the surroundings. Prior to initiating Asiri Surakimu Samanola campaign, Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd has been running a 6 year long CSR campaign themed ‘Samahan Relief Zone’ to provide freshly brewed Samahan and therapeutic foot massages to pilgrims using the herbal goodness of Link Natural SP balm. The Asiri Surakimu Samanola campaign action plan aligns well with the No. 15 goal of ‘Life on Land’, one of the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ spelled out by the United Nations.
Commenting on the campaign, Priyantha Collnnege, Manager ER & CSR of Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd., said, “Adam’s Peak is not only a place of religious and historical significance but also a treasure trove that harbours valuable endemic flora and fauna. Water falling on the cone shaped Adam’s Peak enriches tributaries of Kelani River and Kalu River, two of the major rivers in Sri Lanka. Out of approx. 500,000 imported polythene & plastic waster per year from Sri Lanka, only 150,000 Metric tonnes get exported as recycled, finished products. A mere 30% - 40% get recycled inside the country which amounts to 175,000 metric tonnes while a staggering 175,000 metric tonnes is estimated to be polluting the land & water resources of the island. Unfortunately, the ecology of this precious mountain is under threat as around 800 metric tonnes of plastic, polythene and solid waste accumulates in the area annually according to official estimates of which, only around 3 metric tonnes get recycled, while the rest continues to pollute the land and water in Adam’s Peak. Our Samahan Relief Zone team has been witnessing this crisis first hand for the past 6 years. Hence, we decided that the time was ripe for us as a responsible corporate to be part of the solution.”
“The basic reconnaissance expedition that we undertook with the assistance of Sri Lanka Police – Nallathanniya revealed a plastic waste layer entrenched in Maskeliya tank upstream. The scouting expedition also discovered numerous dumps of plastics and polythene deep in the forests of Adam’s Peak. In 2016, one of these mounds of plastic caused a landslide,” further revealed Priyantha Collnnege.
Asiri Surakimu Samanola programmes consisted of a lineup of activities. Link Natural Products established 6 large collection centres with enormous cages for collecting plastics and polythene. In addition to 6 Asiri Surakimu Shramadana campaigns to collect plastic and polythene waste in partnership with 57 public and private sector organizations, volunteer groups, schools and other interested parties, the Company provided people who volunteered to collect waste during their descent with over 1,500 large bags for the purpose. The Asiri Surakimu Shramadana campaigns consisted of 4 major clean-up activities and two minor ones. Conducted with the participation of 4,122 people, the campaign resulted in the removal of 6,584 kgs of waste from the Adam’s Peak grounds. Link Natural Products further supported the volunteers with food, gloves and other equipment required for the clean-up campaigns.
“While we were honoured to be the initiators of the campaign, we could not have carried out a project of this scale and magnitude without the support of our other stakeholders. I would like to offer my sincere appreciation for the genuine interest and efforts to protect the delicate ecology of the Adam’s Peak region,” commented Shanaka Fernando, Marketing Manager of Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd.
Over 15 stakeholders such as the Presidential Secretariat, District Secretariat office –Nuwaraeilya, Divisional Secretary’s office – Ambagamuwa, Pradeshiya Sabhas of Ambagamuwa and Maskeliya, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sri Lanka Police – Nallathanniya & Maskeliya, RDHS – Nuwara-Eliya, National youth services council, ITN media network and ECO Spindles (Pvt) Ltd worked together to make the campaign a success.
In addition to the massive clean-up campaign, Link Natural Products took the initiative to create awareness and transform the basic ideology on plastic and polythene pollution in Adam’s Peak with a novel communication programme consisting of multitudes of communication tools and platforms. One of the focal points of the communication and awareness programme was a music video featuring music maestro Edward Jayakody and popular contemporary artist Sankha Dineth. The captivating music video shot entirely in and around Adam’s Peak saw these two musicians from two generations and two fan-bases coming together to give their own rendition in an effort to solve the man-made environmental disaster. The music video may have touched the hearts and minds of a larger group evident from the 80,000 views on youtube, a significant number by Sri Lankan standards. Link Natural Products also conducted several discussions with the help of the Independent Television Network, an important stakeholder in the initiative. ‘Save Sri Pada’, a FB page dedicated to the cause saw 29,000 fan base congregated within a significantly short period of time. Link Natural Products also installed 35 hoardings to communicate the gravity of the ecological disaster taking place in Adam’s Peak along the Ginigathhena – Nallathanniya Road.
Aiming to increase awareness amongst pilgrims and win psychological commitment to the cause, Link Natural Products installed a large LED Kiosk at the Samahan relief zone, which allowed the pilgrims to take a ‘pledge-of-Conservation’. Around 70,000 pilgrims have so far taken the pledge and the company intends to increase this base with like-minded individuals who are passionate about environmental conservation.
Link Natural Products recognized all those who helped in deed and effort during the last 05 month of the Sri Pada season with certificates of appreciation. The Company plans to sustain the campaign in an effort to make a long-term commitment and become an important stakeholder of saving the environment in Adam’s Peak. Accordingly, the last session of this massive clean-up project post Sri Pada season was done on 25th May 2019 followed by an appreciation session for the participants.
“The success of the campaign inspired us further to continue our efforts to be a part of the solution to ecological challenges. I would like to invite the general public and other interested parties to join hands with us to be guardians of the environment. “I would also request all of you to visit our ‘Save Sri Pada’ website and the ‘Save Sri Pada’ FB page for more details of this worthy cause and also join them to get updates”, commented Shanaka Fernando, Marketing Manager of Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd.
Link natural Products envisions continuing the same project at other pilgrimage and ecologically valued places with support in line with the Company’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental conservation.