| INTERMEDIATE TECHNOLOGY GROUP
ITDG 1: SUSTAINABILITY CAMPAIGN
WASTE MANAGEMENT IN GALLE, SRI LANKA
Galle is a large town in the southern province of Sri Lanka.
Waste dumping has long been a problem and has created health
and environmental issues within the community. The size of
the problem has increased in recent years as the relative proportion
of paper, glass and plastics as a percentage of total waste
PLASTIC WASTE. Plastics create particular problems as they
resist decay and can take centuries to break down naturally.
Habit means that plastic waste is often thrown into the street
where it accumulates and attracts vermin and insects which
in turn spread disease. Since biodegradable waste is also commonly
thrown onto the street this too can produce chemical reactions
that leave environmental and health problems. Water and food
are contaminated and in some areas there are high rates of
PLASTIC RECYCLING is a complicated process and has often not
been thought to be economically cost-effective because of high
levels of impurity in household waste. Impurities result because
plastics are not sorted properly. Some may contain a mixture
of plastics, others have additives that reduce the purity of
recycled material. Often several different types of plastics
are collected together, making sorting critical and potentially
expensive. If plastics could be sorted and collected within
households, the problem of mixed plastics would potentially
be overcome. Separation into Low Density Plastic (LDP), High
Density Plastic (HDP) Polypropylene (PP) and Polythylene (PE)
in the households therefore makes sense.
A COMMUNITY WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.
Pushpa Nilathi is the Manager of the Arthacharya Foundation
in Galle. The organisation was established to work with the
local council (called Municipal Councils in Sri Lanka). The
foundation began working with some low income community groups
in the Dadella area of Galle to encourage them to collect
plastic waste at household level, ensure it was properly
separated, and then to work as a co-operative group to recycle
it into pellets for re-sale. They also encouraged the groups
to collect and compost their organic waste.
At first, three community groups, usually comprising mostly
women, were chosen to be involved. It was so successful that
within two years, the community involvement had doubled.
The images show the sorts
of materials currently collected and sorted by the Sri Lankan
THE SUCCESS STORY.
Some of the factors showing its success
There has been no dengi fever in the project area for the last
The cost of collecting waste to the Municipal Council has fallen
The community groups are able to sell compost produced from
their organic waste.
The price at which they can sell compost has doubled in two
years as people have realised its quality
Each community group has formed a children’s branch,
all 5 to 15 year olds in the community being members who are
educated about waste and participate both in collection and
People in the communities are proud of their progress and the
improvement in the environment in which they live
Untreated plastics can be sold for 8 rupees per kg. Coloured
polythene pellets sell for 35 rupees and colourless for up
to 45 rupees
The average income per household involved is 650 rupees with
a much better quality of life as a result - three meals
a day are now common whereas previously one was more likely.
Children can now go to school because parents can afford the
There is a much greater sense of community. They work together
on committees. With the youth programme, and in bargaining
with the Municipal Council and buyers of the plastic.
The status of the women involved has gone up. Men were initially
hostile to them being committee members are would try to force
them not to attend. Now the men drop women at the committee
meetings and look after children whilst they are away.
Habits have changed fundamentally - waste is now seen
as a source of income. The message is, ‘Solid waste is
money, don’t throw it away.’
EXTENDING THE PROGRAMME
Pushpa and her team are delighted with the success so far but
want to extend the system into more areas of Galle and elsewhere
in Sri Lanka. However, doing so has proved more difficult
than they imagined. So, they are looking for ways in which
they can attract more communities to follow the lead. They
have already developed some publicity ideas for themselves
(images) but are also hopeful
that some other ideas may result from SDA. They believe there
are a number of different
The general population of Galle. Although the scheme targeted
poor communities, there is no reason why a wider population
should not be involved in waste management schemes. It might
be that the community groups could offer a collection system
into wealthier areas. A publicity campaign for the general
public which showed some of the benefits of involvement might
attract more interest. Similarly, a 3D sorting or collection
method that also advertised the scheme would be beneficial.
The fewer words involved the better. If necessary, any text
could be translated into the local language, Sinhalese.
Young people are critical to the future success of any waste
management system. Secondary schools produce their own waste
management problems in Sri Lanka as much as anywhere else.
A poster and a 3D prototype for use in secondary schools could
be designed and made.
Primary school children are also important. They might enjoy
learning about waste from an illustrated story with accompanying
pop-up characters or a card/board game based on collecting
and separating waste.
SUPPORT INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS
The following photographs illustrate the current position
in Dadella, Galle. They show the collection of plastics, their
use in home gardens and the recycling process. They also show
some of the current 3D and 2D publicity campaigns that have
been developed at the Waste Management Recycling offices. The
challenge is to produce something that can be used more widely
to generate enthusiasm for recycling within the wider community.
Collection of plastic waste in a home in Dadella, Sri Lanka.
Different plastic waste products collected for recycling in
a Sri Lankan home
Plastic bags being used to grow seedlings in a Sri Lankan
Domestic bags collected at the recycling plant
stages of recycling - the initial waste plastic,
after reheating, and finally after being made into pellets
The Dadella recycling plant in operation
One of the posters currently displayed in the Galle office.
Part of the recycling display in the Galle office.
Some of the publicity material on display in the Galle office