The Arunella Waste Management project spearheaded by Unilever Sri Lanka’s Ceytea Factory in Agarapathana recently achieved the complete elimination of waste being dumped in and around the Kothmala Oya in the surrounding towns of Dayagama, Agarapathana, Gleinline, Holbrook and Nagasena.
A joint initiative of Unilever,the Nuwaraeliya Pradeshiya Sabha,the Agarapathana and Dayagama Police and members of the local community,this marks a watershed moment for community based waste management projects in the country.
“The Kothmala Oya has always been one of our key sources of water with over 1,500 families living in the area depending on it. The dumping of waste in and around the river had polluted it,making the water unfit for consumption. The Arunella Waste Management project was launched in August 2016 with the aim of turning this situation around. With zero waste now being dumped into the Kothmala Oya, over 20,000 people from our community can begin using the river water once again,” said Vidura Sampath, Assistant Commissioner of Local Government.
The Ceytea factory team kick started the project with a series of awareness sessions covering all towns in the area with the support of the Nuwaraeliya Pradeshiya Sabha and the Agarapathana Police. Dedicated garbage bins for segregating biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste were distributed to the community. The Nuwaraeliya Pradeshiya Sabha processes biodegradable waste at the Pathana Composting plant with non-biodegradable waste being recycled. Coming in as the law enforcement partner, the Police ensure that the communities abide by their commitment to the project.
Environmental committees comprising of members of the local community were constituted to make the initiative self-sustainable. These teams of volunteers monitor the situation on ground and ensure proper segregation, collection and disposal of waste. Working closely with the Nuwaraeliya Pradeshiya Sabha, the Agarapathana Police and the Unilever Ceytea Factory, they meet once a month to discuss the progress of the project.
“At Unilever we seek to grow our business whilst decoupling our environmental footprint from our growth and increasing our positive social impact. In line with this, we are delighted to work with the Nuwaraeliya Pradeshiya Sabha, the Agarapathana Police and members of the local community on the ongoing Arunella Waste Management initiative,” said Carl Cruz, Chairman, Unilever Sri Lanka. “Launched with the aim of supplementing waste management efforts of local civic bodies, we have, together, been able to bring about positive and sustainable change to the towns in the area. The dedication of the people on the ground inspires us and reinforces our commitment to our core purpose of making sustainable living commonplace.”
Charged by the remarkable outcomes they have achieved within a short period, members of the community are exploring more ways in which they can collaborate with government bodies and businesses to bring positive change to the area.