Consumer Pulse
- Colombo’s
deadly garbage
disaster sparks
a move into
sustainable
practices
Shenalie Weerasekera & Hasini Gunarathne

On the morning of 14th April 2017, when people were preparing for new year celebrations, a large section of the Meethotamulla garbage dump in Colombo collapsed on surrounding houses, killing many people. Since 2013, there had been many unsuccessful public protests against dumping garbage in this area. The garbage dump had grown up to twenty acres and was about twenty metres in height when it collapsed.

Unfortunately, it took this tragedy for the country to wake up to the growing problem it faced when it came to collecting and dumping garbage. After this, measures were taken to tackle this problem.
In November 2017, waste segregation in residences and corporate establishments became mandatory. Municipal councils all across the island launched a programme to only collect solid waste that was properly segregated into recyclables, non-recyclables and perishables.
Other positive trends followed. After a cricket match in which Sri Lanka lost at home, the fans were seen collecting plastic bottles, wrappers and other trash into garbage bags. This started a trend which has been seen at other public events across the country, including schools and universities. These efforts have been praised and admired on both traditional and social media platforms.

Brands have also understood the need to tackle this problem. Many have moved from plastic to recyclable packaging materials. Twistee moved away from plastic bottles to Tetra Paks and John Keells launched an initiative called Plasticycle and have created specially designed bins for the responsible disposal of recyclable plastic. This encourages people to wash, crush and drop off their recyclable plastic at a bin that is convenient to them.

Due to a government initiative banning polythene grocery bags supermarkets, cafés and other food outlets have switched to paper and other recyclable materials.
Many entrepreneurs and investors in Sri Lanka are now also looking to find solutions to the garbage crisis Sri Lanka wide and are pushing to create business strategies that are not only profitable but also socially responsible.

 

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