Study on Post-Consumer Plastics in Sri Lanka

This study investigated the current status of the plastic industry in Sri Lanka with special emphasis on PET based bottle industry. The specific objective of this study is to estimate the approximate amount of post-consumed PET based bottles available in the most urbanized (Western Province) areas of Sri Lanka to be recycled by RECNET International Lanka Private Ltd. in their newly proposed plant. Data was collected from a number of sources that included the Department of Customs for imported plastic raw materials, the Plastics and Rubber Institute for domestic plastic manufacturing and finished plastic products, Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) waste collection centre for waste data, selected hotels for waste generation data and a recycling plant in Moratuwa for technical data. The total domestic PET based bottle production and the amount exported as finished products were estimated based on available information. Findings of the study revealed that Sri Lanka imported 1337 mt of PET based raw materials in year 2003. The amount imported as PET bottles is insignificant. Raw material imports of PET are rising at 28 per cent per year since 2000, while all plastic products manufacturing is increasing at 7.5per cent per year. Based on data from a separation centre in one district of Colombo, it was estimated that each household generates about 3 kg of collected PET waste per year that could be extrapolated to about 736 mt for the entire Western Province. Waste from hotels above the 3 star level generates about 58 mt per year. Although there are no PET bottle recycling plants in Sri Lanka, about 80 mt of collected bottles are exported to India, which is about 10 per cent of the PET waste stream in the Western Province. Comparatively only 225-300 mt of PVC enters the waste stream annually island wide while about 1270 mt of plastic bags enter the waste stream in the Western Province alone. Much of the plastic bags and PVC consumer products are presently being recycled, but there are no PET recyclers, currently.

Research team

Paul Steele
Asha Gunawardena