Current Status of Plastic Packaging Materials in Sri Lanka

R.A. Jayasinghe, N.J.G.J. Bandaraand W.A.S.S. Dissanayake, W.M.S.K.B. Wijekoon
Department of Forestry and Environment Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

All the goods we purchase today require some form of packaging in order to reach their final destination in our homes or workplaces. Despite the many functions served, there is a concern about the amount of packaging that is used and readily disposed. Since it constitute a significant portion of the municipal solid waste stream which will end up in open dump sites, landfills or are burnt in open air.

This study was conducted to recognize the importance of adequate and reliable information on plastic packaging materials and to analyze the current status of the packaging materials used in the country in both qualitative and quantitative manner.

The study was carried out in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. In total, 300 households were selected for the study from the three districts, namely Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara. Each district was again divided into three sample areas as urban, semi urban and rural according to socio-economic factors such as number of people and income level of the family. 08 groceries per sub area were selected to represent different categories of commercial establishments (Super markets, medium and small sized groceries and shops) from each district. Furthermore, 12 recycling and manufacturing plants were visited from the three districts. The respondents were selected using random sampling method and the data collection was carried out primarily through questionnaire surveys, personal interviews and field visits.

The data collected through the questionnaires were analysed qualitatively and statistically to find out the current status of plastic packaging materials in a densely populated area of the country. According to the survey results, most commonly used packaging material by households is polythene bags. 72% of the households stated that the shopping bags and grocery bags are the most common type of packaging item used in households followed by other food wrappers (59%) and lunch sheets (49%).

Most of the items in the supermarkets are packed using some kind of plastic packaging material and they are giving away bags for each and every item a customer buys. Approximately 1500-2000 bags of all sizes are sold in an average town per day. 62% of the households in urban areas stated that the most common practice of disposal is open dumping or disposing to be collected by the waste collectors of the Municipal or Urban councils. Burning is also widely practiced among many households in rural and semi urban areas as plastic materials are easily combustible. This was 68% in rural and 50% in semi urban areas consecutively.

According to the survey, only 13% of households practice proper waste separation at their homes. 60% of households do not sort by any means and 27% sort waste as organics and inorganics. Re-use capacity of plastic packaging materials are also very low. Only 20% of the households practice re-using of plastic packaging in a regular basis.

According to the data analyzed, the composition of plastic waste used for recycling are PP, PET, HDPE, LDPE, PS, PVC, PC and other polymers. The major portion of plastic waste collected for recycling consists of PP. Recyclers do not accept plastic materials which are contaminated with cement, chemicals, acids and poisons. Moreover, plastic materials found in mix waste are also not accepted due to practical difficulties in sorting them. Despite many difficulties faced by the recyclers, many stated that the industry is profitable.

Eco friendly sewerage system for low income coastal community

W.N.C. Apsara and B.C. Liyanage
Department of Civil Engineering, The Open University of Sri Lanka

The purpose of a sewerage disposal system is to carry human excreta & urine (Black water) and wastewater (Gray water) back to nature in a proper way without any harm to the environment as well as to human beings. But the implementing and operating costs of the sewerage disposal systems are normally very high which make low income communities unable to reach these techniques.

The aim of this study was to find a proper sewerage system for a low income coastal community, “Pittaniya Watta” in Moratuwa Municipal Council. The community consists of 142 families with about 710 people spreading over a 8092m2 limited area. First the real situation and the problems prevailing were found doing a questionnaire survey, which consisted 105 questions in 10 different categories that covered relevant problems in sewerage disposal according to a proper cross section.

Questionnaires were analyzed and evaluated to find daily water consumption and sewerage disposal capacities. Based on the results, Eco-sanitation and simplified sewerage system were selected as the most economical solution for the problem. The Eco-sanitation is a separate unit, which constructs above the ground level and consists of two compartments that are used only for excreta disposal and could be used alternatively for individual houses. Number of Eco-sanitation units required for the said community was 142 nos.

The simplified sewerage system is the most economical “off-site disposal system” which was designed considering both self cleansing velocity (0.5 m/s) as well as tractive tension (1 Pa). The results revealed that the best fitted minimum sewer gradient and the minimum sewer diameter were 1 in 208 and 100mm respectively. The collected sewage will be treated in primary and secondary stages in anaerobic digestion units. Three units were provided with each dimension length, width and depth of 6.2mx 3mx4m respectively and 0.2 m of free board. Using a lift station a head was added to the effluent to take it from 5m below the ground to the ground surface where the Reed bed was provided before it is released to the existing drains that are directed to the sea.  Estimated hydraulic retention time of the reed bed is 6.79 hours while dimensions are: water depth = 0.6m and surface area of the bed =78 m2.

According to the basic cost analysis on two systems Eco-san unit for each house is Rs 47925. When consider the whole community, the total cost for Eco-san was Rs 6,805,350 while the simplified sewerage system was Rs 2,886,000. However, at the operational stage of simplified sewerage system, with maintenance cost, the total cost was estimated as Rs 16,606,390.00.  Therefore, based on the cost and considering the most suitable system for the subjected community is Eco-san. But according to communicant’s desire, land scarcity, and population growth as well as future forecast on water consumption, improvement of the living standards etc. simplified sewerage system was selected as the best sewerage disposal system to implement at Pitaniya Watta low income community.

Influence of undergraduate activities on the waste composition and generation rates in a residential university: Case study

S. Wijetunga and N. Liyanaarachchi
Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

The increase of waste generation and its disposal is a major problem and challenge faced by the most of the countries today.The uncontrolled disposal of different types of waste into environment is a great threat for the future of all living beings in the world. Therefore, it is essential to pay more attention for the waste management and disposal to avoid the detrimental impact on the environment. For the development of a proper treatment or disposal systems for waste management for any organization or municipality, it is essential to have the information with respect to waste composition, generation rate and its variation with time of that organization. Therefore, in this study, it was attempted to evaluate the composition and the variation of waste generation rate in the hostels of the undergraduates of University of Ruhuna with their activities.

The study was conducted in the premises and surroundings of the hostels of the undergraduates for a period of one year (September to August). The waste samples were collected from each and every hostel once in two months. The waste samples were separated into different components (such as foods, paper, plastics, etc), weighed and determined the percentages of different components.  The different types of waste generation rate per head were calculated based on the waste generation for the total study period. It was found that food remains, papers, plastics and polythene are the major components. The types of waste found in hostels of girls were less in numbers than that of boys. Leather, textiles, metals, etc could not be found in hostels of girls.

Over ~95 % of waste found in girls’ hostels were food remains and boys generate food waste about ~71%. Per capita food waste generation by girls was ~ 207 g/day while it was ~23 g/day by boys. The generation of other types of waste was higher in hostels of boys than that of girls’ hostels. It appears that the amount of waste generation varied in different months basically due to examinations and other activities of the students. During examination periods, it seems that the undergraduates may change their food habits. Based on this study, it can be concluded that major component of waste found in undergraduate hostels was food wastes and the generation rate slightly varies with the activities of undergraduates. When designing of a waste management systems for higher education institutes where students reside, higher priority should be given for the management of food waste

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Assessing the role of environment regulation on firms’ private action towards environmental quality: Case of non-adoption of solid waste management practices by food processing sector in Sri Lanka

J.M.M. Udugama and U.K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige
Department of Agribusiness Management, Wayamba University, Sri Lanka

Whether a firm takes private actions to augment environment quality, more often than not classified as a public good, in a situation where it can compensate the less significant losses in the market with relatively higher gains obtained through failures in government policy is of an economic issue of concern amongst the economists and policymakers. The specific objective of this study was to address this economic problem from an empirical point of view. It uses the special case of Sri Lankan food processing firms’ non-compliance to the recently introduced National Strategy for Solid Waste Management of the Ministry of Environment, which recommends 9 different solid waste management practices (SWMPs) for a food firm to adopt based on the production and processing activities it undertakes.

From a database containing the information with regard to different types SWMPS adopted by a firm, we have selected 160 firms which did not have even the “most economical” practices out of the 9 SWMPs recommended in place, i.e.: (1) sorting of waste based on 3R system; (2) composting and (3) good manufacturing practices (GMP). The perceptions of managers of these firms on various facets related to existing and anticipated environment regulatory framework and the legal/judiciary system were assessed by taking the scores provided by them to a series of statements (n = 14) on a multi-point bidirectional likert-scale. The Confirmatory Factor Analysis techniques, including the Scale Reliability and Unidimensionality were employed to these scores to derive an index – “Environment Regulation Responsiveness Index” (ERRI) the values of which reflects the relative strength of a firm in concern reacts to the environmental regulation (i.e. -1.0 the least to 1.0 the most responsive).

The magnitude of ERRI of a majority of the firms was relatively low (i.e. in between -0.5 to 0.5), especially for the small scale firms, indicating that firms’ did not consider the government regulation as a promising factor governing their action on environment. It also highlights that a vast majority (> 90%) of firms have “no plans” to adopt any of these practices in the near future citing the financial burden and the lack of information on SWMPs. The outcome of analysis, thus, calls attention for a critical revision and adjustments to the policy on environmental quality management at the National and Provincial level in order to promote voluntary action by firms.

Key words: compliance, environmental quality, food processing sector, regulation, solid waste management

Effects of modified artificial soils on compost worms: An approach to large scale worm production

P.M.C.S. De Silva
Department of Zoology, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

Vermicomposting is a viable recycling technique. Nevertheless it has a very little popularity in soil waste management process in Sri Lanka mainly due to the lack of large scale compost worm production. Substrate is one of the major factors that determine earthworm   reproduction. Artificial soil made from fine sand (70%), kaolin clay (20%) and sphagnum peat (10%) is being used as a substrate in temperate regions and this type of artificial soils are not feasible in tropical regions due to scarcity of peat.

Therefore compost worm production was investigated in locally prepared artificial soils (AS) using paddy husk, saw dust and coco peat (composted & uncomposted). Adult earthworms of compost worms (Eisenia sp and Perionyx excavatus, n = 10, 6 replicates) were introduced into prepared AS and incubated under tropical conditions for 28 days. The moisture contents of the prepared AS was set to 50% of the respective water holding capacities. After 28 days adults were removed and containers were kept for another 28 days for hatching of the juveniles. Mortality and mean number of cocoons (28 days) and juvenile production (56 days) was determined. Temperate artificial soil was used as the control substrate.

No mortality was recorded with both species tested and in all four modified soil types, indicating their survival was not affected by the nature of modified soils.  Number of cocoons and juveniles produced by Eisenia andrei in control soil was not significantly different with AS consisted with composted coco peat and paddy husk (p> 0.05) but significantly different with AS consisted with saw dust and uncomposted coco peat (p< 0.001).  The highest mean number of juveniles of P. excavatus (168.25 and 167) and mean number of cocoons (1.47 and 1.42 cocoons/ worm/per week) were recorded in temperate AS and AS with composted coco peat respectively and lower number of juveniles were recorded in AS with saw dust and paddy husk. The results indicates that AS soils made from composted coco peat gives similar performance in juvenile production of both compost worms tested and may be used in mass scale compost worm production under tropical conditions.

Utilization of earthworms in organic waste management

P. Alagesaran and R. Deebha
Post Graduate and Research Department of Zoology, Yadava College, Madurai, India

Vermicomposting is an ecofriendly, socially sound and economically viable technology to manage the organic waste resources. It is popular particularly in India, because it is the cheapest solution to overcome the dangerous effects of modernized agriculture. Vermicomposting is the application of earthworm in producing vermifertilizer which helps in maintenance of better environment and results in sustainable agriculture. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficiency and the nutritional status of vermicompost processed by two earthworm species, Eisenia fetida and Eudrilus eugeniae from leaf litter and sugarcane trash.

Chemical analysis of the vermicompost obtained from leaf litter wastes showed that the quantity of organic carbon was reduced from 38.65 to 28.89 and 28.0% by E. fetida and E. eugeniae respectively. The level of nitrogen (1.30%), phosphorus (0.38%), potassium (0.57%) and calcium ((0.70%) was maximum in leaf litter vermicompost processed by E. eugeniae than E. fetida. At the end of 45 days of composting, E. eugeniae has tremendously decreased the C/N ratio from 45.47, 60.19 to 22.40 and 29.19 in the composts of leaf litter and sugarcane trash respectively. Similarly, E. eugeniae processed leaf litter compost treated with plant, Abelmoschus esculentus showed maximum height (61.4cm), number of leaves (16 per plant), leaf area (365 cm²), fruit length (15.8cm), fruit weight (17.9gm) and total chlorophyll content (3.76 mg/g.fresh wt) than those treated with sugarcane trash.

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A comparative study of alternative waste management practices

Kaduwela Pradeshiya Sabha

Kaduwela has become a popular, urbanized and industrialized area in the recent past which has lead to increase in the amount of solid waste generated in the area dramatically. The local authority faced with a severe problem of the final disposal of waste generated everyday.

To overcome the problem, the local authority has started a project with the aim of producing compost and bio gas by using solid waste and to reduce the amount of waste coming out from households. The overall objective of the project is to minimize final disposal of the waste amount by promoting community participation. The specific objectives are to minimize waste that goes for final disposal by treating twenty five tons per day by the end of 2011 and to minimize that comes to waste stream by introducing 3R practices to 5000 households by end of 2011.

Under this project 4200 tons of town waste and market waste per year will be used for composting. 2160 tons of kitchen waste per year will be managed by introducing 3R practices. This includes conducting awareness programmes, distributing compost bins and storing bags, collecting sorted waste and finally selling. Waste from temple is sorted and used for bio gas production.

There are many benefits as well as drawbacks of the project. Receiving mixed waste, no facility for final disposal and lack of public commitment are some of the problems faced by the composting project. Reducing environmental pollution, generating job opportunities and producing alternatives for chemical fertilizer are some of the benefits created by the project.

Poor attitudes of citizens and negligence of workers are problems faced when introducing 3R practices. In addition to that lack of receiving bins continuously and poor maintenance of bins have also created problems. However, introducing 3R practices have many benefits such as improving scenic beauty and reducing health problems. It has the ability to improve social economy. Most importantly it can help to develop the public’s discipline in waste management and to create relation between local authority and citizens.

Receiving mixed waste leads to sending considerable amount of waste to final disposal and degrades quality of compost. Introducing 3R practices is less costly than that of composting. Hence local authority should pay more attention on promoting 3R concepts than composting. Composting is not the sole solution to solve waste problem. It should be a combination of composting, 3R and land filling.

Kaduwela Pradeshiya Sabha

Proper solid waste management practices implemented in Puttlam Urban Council

Puttlam Urban Council

The total area of the Puttlam UC is about 25.24km2 which is divided in to nine divisions. In addition to the registered population of 56254, around 35000 displaced people of the Northern Province also live here. The town boundary ends with Colombo-Puttlam main road in south, Puttlam-Mannar main road in North and Puttlam-Kurunegala road in east. Majority of the population are Muslims.

Puttlam main town acts as central economic center for several other sub towns. With this situation, considerable amount of waste is generated daily in Puttlam town area. With a combination of domestic and market solid waste, people are facing critical health, environmental and visual problems.

Large amount of money is spent on cleaning, labor and health facilities to recover the waste problems. With the increasing population, solid waste generation rate is also increasing while the waste disposing space remains stable or in many instances is decreasing.

With this critical situation Puttlam UC introduced source separation in 3 stages as glass, metals, plastic, polythene and degradable organic waste. Separation bins were provided at domestic levels and divisional level.

But due to the lack of knowledge of waste disposal practices and rigid attitudes of people in waste disposal methods and behavior, this project was a failure.

Main objectives of the project were to dispose and manage sold waste to keep the town as a clean healthy environment and to convert waste to economical good. This is a medium scale project with labourers from UC health and sanitation division; four laborers to collect waste and six labourers for compost production.

Around five tons of mixed waste is collected daily and transported to the composting yard provided by Holcim (Pvt.) Ltd. After the manual separation of waste, the degradable waste (65% of the total) is used for compost production using windrow method. Water level, temperature, and odor are controlled with regular mixing of piles. Waste from fish market is used to maintain the C:N ratio in 1:25. After nine weeks of production process, sample checking, storing, and marketing is done.

Other advancements suggested are to use feces in compost production and introduce super compost production while overcoming the recent problems in waste transportation, less space and low facilities in compost yard.

Puttlam Urban Council

Increasing the quality of organic fertilizer produced from municipal solid waste and

Balangoda Urban Council

Balangoda Urban Council had faced numerous problems due to protest from public due to dumping of waste near the sports ground situated at the center of the city. About 12 Metric tons of waste had been dumped there on a daily basis.

Since the Urban Development Authority has acquired this land for development purposes, the Municipal Council had to encroach a government land in Bankiyawatta area to start the compost project. This is a medium scale project which is aimed at improving the quality of organic fertilizer which was made out of solid waste. In addition it was also aimed at sustainable maintenance of the project by introducing  quality organic fertilizer to the market and is aimed at reducing the entrance of non-degradable parts in to the environment by creating a market for non-degradable waste.

Compost is produced by using open windrow method. The solid waste collected is separated and biodegradable waste is used in compost production. Carbon to nitrogen ratio, aerobic conditions, moisturecontrol, and temperature control are taken in to consideration in this process. To increase the quality of the organic fertilizer, half burnt rice husks and treated toilet wastes (solid and liquid waste) were added to in the process.

This is an effective method for local authorities where the generation of waste is about 100 Metric tons or less and for local authorities who collect the waste everyday. 90% of the environmental harm which was done by odor and house flies can be reduced by this method. This is a low cost method and technological requirements are simple. Limited resources can be protected and sustainable use is guaranteed.

Several problems have arisen in this project and solutions had been found. Public protests have arisen due to the flow of leachate to outside of the composting area. To prevent this problem, leachate dilution is a solution. Control of odor and houseflies was also done.

Balangoda Urban Council

Bioremediation of carbofuran by isolated bacteria from soil

L.M.A.M. Thilakarathne, P.M. Manage and J.A. Liyanage

Among available pesticides, carbofuran is widely used as a pesticide in all parts of Sri Lanka to improve the quality and yield of food crops by protecting against pests. Lack of knowledge on the fate and behaviour of pesticides in the Sri Lankan environment has contributed to public perceptions, fueled by local media about increasing adverse health effects due to exposure to pesticides.

In the present study laboratory experiments were conducted to isolate carbofuran degradable bacteria in soil samples collected from cultivation land in Medirigiriya where carbofuran is used as a major pesticide for agriculture. Seventeen bacteria strains were isolated from soil enrichment experiments by pour plate method. Tentative identifications were done using morphological and chemical analysis and it was confirmed that all bacteria isolates belong to gram negative and rod shape. Out of twelve, three isolates namely BC–3, BC–12 and BC–15 were selected for degradation study based on their morphological differences. Others were kept on agar slant and degradability of carbofuran by bacteria was detected by GC analysis. The bacteria isolates BC–3 and BC–12 showed a significant degradability of carbofuran, while the isolate BC–15 bacteria did not. BC–3 isolate removed 50% (±2) of the carbofuran thirteen days after incubation at 37°C (± 2) when the concentrations of pesticide were at 0.3 ppm and 0.5 ppm. The bacterial strain BC–15 showed a slow rate of degradation of carbofuran when compared with the BC–3 and BC–12 strains. In BC–15 inoculated experiment, residual carbofuran was detected even after three weeks of incubation. BC–3 bacteria showed a half life of thirteen days for 0.3 ppm and 0.5 ppm concentrations. In all bacteria strains showed high half life when concentration of carbofuran was 0.1 ppm. In contrast, variation in half life values were detected for the three different concentrations of carbofuran for BC–12 bacteria.

The results of the present study suggest that some bacterial strains in soil play an important role in biodegradation of carbofuran along with other photochemical and hydrological reactions. Further studies are being conducted to ascertain the potential impact of bacterial isolates on carbofuran.

L.M.A.M. Thilakarathne1, P.M. Manage1 and J.A. Liyanage2

1Department of Zoology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka 2 Department of Chemistry, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.