With global productions of plastic amounting to 300 million tons per year, there is currently 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris floating in the ocean right now. Now, more than ever, plastic has become a significant danger to the ecosystem and our future lives. Sri Lanka too, is no stranger to the threat plastic possess. When Sri Lanka joined UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign in 2017 to ban single-use plastic products, separate and recycle waste and have our oceans and coastline pollution free by 2030 there was a significant shift in how plastic is handled and disposed of, yet, there is no denying that plastic still remains to be a menace that litters our streets and poisons our seas.
But on a positive note, there is an increasing trend in companies and individuals becoming a lot more plastic conscious and finding creative ways to reduce and recycle as best as possible.
Suren Cooke Agencies is one such company that’s playing a small but impactful role in the anti-plastic movement. A pioneer in the pest management industry both in Sri Lanka and Maldives for over 30 years, the company has set itself apart from the highly pollutant pest control industry by being involved in carbon neutral practices that adopt control techniques that are both nontoxic and chemical free. Yet, their sense of responsibility didn’t stop there. The company, whose business finds its foundation in being environmentally conscious, gradually grew concerned over the amount of plastic they accrued in the course of their work and was desperately looking for a plausible solution to manage their increasing stock of disposed plastic.
We thought hard about how we can produce them locally and the idea to recycle our collected plastic into bait stations came naturally. When we set up the plant and started our operations, we could see just how much plastic we were saving by recycling.”
Speaking to us about the company’s environment conscious policies, Director Sheran Cooke commented that their ‘company has always been mindful of environmental issues’. “That is why we worked hard to make our products chemical free. Our operations demand the use of products that often comes in plastic containers and when we were confronted with how much plastic we are discarding we wanted to find a better way of disposal,”
The answer finally came in the form of a government circular early this year to all Pest Control Service Institutions calling for the use of tamper proof bait stations that are not open to the risk of being consumed by children, pets and untargeted animals.
This eventually led to the introduction of the Tamper Resistant Sure Kill bait station produced and sold by Suren Cooke Agencies – a product that is 100% made from recycled plastic in a small facility in Meegoda. It’s a product that not only gave the company an environmentally friendly disposal method of plastic waste but spoke the story of a company’s effort to clean our streets and seas of plastic.
“We thought hard about how we can produce them locally and the idea to recycle our collected plastic into bait stations came naturally. When we set up the plant and started our operations, we could see just how much plastic we were saving by recycling,”
Now, more than ever, plastic has become a significant danger to the ecosystem and our future lives. Sri Lanka too, is no stranger to the threat plastic possess
The operation is a community effort. People around the area are employed by the company to collect all kinds of plastics that are discarded; from barrels and buckets to cans and chairs, which are then cleaned, cut down and finally fed into the crusher in order to produce tiny plastic pellets. From each disposed plastic collection, there is a total of 2-3 tons waiting to be crushed and, in a day,, nearly 750kg of plastic is fed into the machine.
The company then buys over 3 tons of recycled plastic pellets from the collectors every month that is as raw material for the new bait stations. The plastic pellets are brought into the Meegoda plant, melted at high heat and pressed to produce different components for the tamper free bait box. Despite being a heavy task, this operation is smoothly executed by just two people; Susantha and Dinesh who are well in their element as they quickly go about to producing these boxes from scratch. In just a month, they produce over 4000 boxes and with one box using around 400g of recycled plastic, a total of 1600kg of plastic is recycled monthly at the plant. Each component is then meticulously assembled and sent off to their customers across the island.
This operation is also entirely closed loop. The water used in the process is circulated and injected back into the recycling operation so there is no polluted water going out and even the plastic components that come out distorted from the press is fed back into the crusher to be used again.
“Our recycling operation is completely nonprofit; we buy the plastic pellets from the community for a price way higher than what we would pay if we were to import it and we employ people around the area to crush and clean the plastic rather than getting our own to do it. It is a more costly operation but it is also making a big difference to the environment and the community and that definitely outweighs the costs we incur. I think we all have a responsibility towards the environment and to changing the status quo of how polluted the planet is with plastic and we simply wanted to do our little bit.”
This operation is not the only step Suren Cooke Agencies have taken towards being environmentally friendly. Their ‘Save Our Seas’ programme runs several beach cleanups and employs divers to dive and collect plastic from the ocean that are used in their recycling operations. They also run an ‘Earthly Warriors’ programme where they award and reward people who go above and beyond to reuse and recycle such as Jayanta of Katana Upcycle who creates books, file covers and wallets from recycled plastic and fabric.
Living in an island where the streets and coasts are bordered with all kinds of plastic waste, companies like these that are doing their part to clean our streets and seas are truly appreciated!