CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is growing increasingly popular in Sri Lanka with companies eager to invest their time and a share of their profits to benefiting society in some way. Currently CSR projects undertaken in Sri Lanka tend to be on an ad-hoc basis such as donations to a school or environmental group. It was because of this, CSR Sri Lanka was created with the aim of providing private sector companies a way to invest in sustainable projects. Projects that not only help the community through social and environmental initiatives but give these companies the option to take responsibility for their impact on society.
What is a circular economy? In a circular economy, products are created to be continually recycled or reused which is more energy efficient than sourcing virgin materials. Our current model of consumption worldwide is called the “linear economy” which follows a take, make and dispose model of production. Without a circular economy, society is burdened with large amounts of non-biodegradable waste which ends up in landfills or the ocean
Introduced into Sri Lanka in 2013, CSR Sri Lanka is a partnership with MVO Nederlands (which translates to CSR Netherlands) and the United States Agency for International Development (US Aid). Their goal – to offer companies the chance to invest in CSR projects that encourage a circular economy.
What is a circular economy? In a circular economy, products are created to be continually recycled or reused which is more energy efficient than sourcing virgin materials. Our current model of consumption worldwide is called the “linear economy” which follows a take, make and dispose model of production. Without a circular economy, society is burdened with large amounts of non-biodegradable waste which ends up in landfills or the ocean. Already CSR Sri Lanka counts forty members with the current membership portfolio reading like the who’s who of successful companies in the country such as Coca Cola, Unilever, Cargills, Jetwing and Sampath Bank.
While CSR Sri Lanka has five speciality areas they cover (circular textiles, water and sustainable business, sustainable agriculture, business for waste and sustainable tourism), their most recent and exciting new project falls under the banner of Business for Waste in the form of “Nikasala Piyasa” – Waste Collection Centre which is located in Kaduwela.
Created as a collaborative effort between CSR Sri Lanka, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd, Ministry of Megapolis & Western Development and Kaduwela Municipal Council, the programme (which is free to join) gives members a place to drop off their non-biodegradable, clean waste. At the centre the waste is weighed and points will be allocated on the type and amount of waste given (roughly 6-8 rupees per kg. of clean waste). Once 1000 points is reached, the individual can then redeem them for 1000 rupees or in the form of vouchers for sustainable products such as homewares.
Officially opened on the 25th to 26th of October by the Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, the initial pilot programme will begin on the 1st of December and will run for three months. A similar programme has already seen great results in Balangoda which is now one of the cleanest regions in Sri Lanka. Mr. Thilina Premjayanth, Cluster facilitator and corporate engagement officer of CSR Sri Lanka was delighted to say that even now, before the project has even finished that other regions such as Galle have shown interest in bringing a waste centre to their area.
The pilot programme in Kaduwela gives the option for the following materials can be collected:
- Laminated wrappers
- PET Bottles
- Plastic (HDP, HDPP, etc)
- Coconut shells
Once the bins in the centre are full, recycling companies will come, collect the waste and take it to a processing facility when it can then go on to become other products.
One such product that could be available very soon in Sri Lanka is the “eco-brick”. Already being used in South America, Africa and other parts of Asia, an eco-brick is a plastic bottle (usually a 2.5L soft drink bottle) which is then filled with clean, non-recyclable plastic such as biscuit wrappers. The inside of the bottle is packed tightly with the soft plastic and the lid put on. This “brick” can then be used to build structures such as housing, garden spaces or furniture.
Mr Premjayanth advised that any companies wanting to start a waste collection centre will need to invest around 1 million rupees to cover all the costs. Each centre will have a manager who is paid a salary. This business model empowers the manager to make additional money from the margin he gets from selling the waste to the recycling companies. “We also encourage the manager to leaflet, do some marketing, go to houses in the area and get your business expanding” Mr Premjayanth said.
According to Plastic Ocean International, around 300 million tonnes of plastic is created each year with around 50% falling into the single use category. Because plastic isn’t biodegradable, it stays in the environment forever, killing animals who ingest it and polluting our land and waterways. It’s up to communities to reduce, reuse and recycle. With creative projects such as “Nikasala Piyasa” it now makes it easier than ever for people to keep the country clean, with the added incentive of receiving a financial reward.
Picture Credit: CSR Sri Lanka