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Sunday, 7 December 2014





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Mega composting facilities to manage WP garbage

The rapid development taking place in almost all parts of the country has turned many urban settlements in the country into more beautiful and attractive places. Clean water bodies, streets and public recreational areas have added beauty to the cities enabling the people to breathe fresh air and live in a relaxed environment. These changes have made a great impact on the people who are living in the Western Province.

Nalin Mannaperuma

However, the heaps of garbage generated in urban settlement has become a major issue to be handled by the Local Authorities as most of the Local Authorities lack proper mechanisms to handle the ever-increasing Municipal Solid Waste on their own due to lack of lands that are to be used as dumping sites and other infrastructure facilities with them.

The delay in implementing proposed mega waste management projects such as waste to energy projects and other projects for handling of MSW, may be due to public protests, lack of political will in implementing those projects in the face of public protests and protracted litigation over the dumping sites, have made the waste management more difficult and challenging for the local authorities.


The Western Provincial Council which is home to nearly one third of the country's population is facing a huge challenge in waste management at present as it is responsible for the generation of nearly two third of the total solid waste generation in the entire country.

Having understood this situation the Western Provincial Council, parallel with the national level policies and strategies of Mahinda Chinthana policy which proposed that the waste management approach should be based on fundamentals of preventing, reducing, reusing, recycling and eco-friendly dispose of waste, has embarked on various projects to handle the waste generated in the province.

Accepting sorted garbage at Karadiyana site
The composting facility at Pohorawatta, Kalutara

It was on the directive of the Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, the Waste Management Authority established solely for the effective handling of waste generated in the province is implementing projects and programs targeting to achieve short, medium and long term goals in terms of waste management in the province.

According to Director Solid Waste Management Authority of the Western Province Nalin Mannaperuma, the Western Province contributes 60 percent of the total waste generation of the country, generating around 3,500 metric tons of MSW per day. However, this is only the MSW collected daily by the Local Authorities and that amount of garbage can be doubled when considering the other industrial waste, building demolishing waste daily generated in the province.

"Studies reveal that this amount will be doubled by 2050 as waste generation rate is increased by 1.2 percent in every year with the increasing population and also due to rapid urbanisation. Therefore the waste management will be a challenge in the future if there is no proper waste management system in place", Mannaperuma said.

That is why the national level waste management policy clearly states that we have to practise Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycle as a means of handling effective waste management in the country.


To adopt this national policy in handling the MSW, the Western Province the biggest contributor for the country's waste generation has adopted the strategy of using waste as a resource.

"To facilitate the implementation of the national level 3R policy in waste management we try to inculcate waste management disciplines among general public to reduce waste at the generation by way of promoting waste separation at generation", Mannaperuma said.

In this endeavour composting has become the most effective and efficient method for the WMA considering the nature of the MSW collected daily by the Local Authorities.

"Composting is the best way of using MSW as a resource as 30 per cent of the garbage collected by the Local Government Bodies in Sri Lanka consist of short term bio-degradable waste which can be easily converted in to compost", Mannaperuma said.

Unlike the polar region the tropical region is having very conducive environment for composting. Since Sri Lanka is a tropical country the environmental condition is very positive for the composting of Municipal Solid Waste.

As Sri Lankan soil has less than one percent of organic compound there is no retention capacity in this soil despite adding inorganic fertiliser for agricultural purposes.

"Therefore, we have to enrich the soil with organic compounds. There is a huge potential for production and since there is a huge demand for the organic fertiliser we can match these two by producing compost from the MSW", he said.

Considering this situation the Western Province has set a target to convert 38 percent of the total perishable waste into compost by 2018.


"That means in the year 2018 we are trying to use minimum 500 metric tons of perishable garbage as raw material for composting in the Western Province. Out of that we can produce around 145 MT of MSW compost per day in 2018. To achieve that target in 2018 we will be able to generate 3600 MT of Municipal Solid Waste compost per month", he said.

To achieve this target the WMA has set a proper plan to scale up the present composting program.

"At present when we consider the entire Western province the composting capacity has been developed upto around 400 metric tons of composting of perishable waste under this program. So that means at present we have the capacity to produce 56 metric tons of compost per day", he said.

The Western Province Waste Management Authority and the Local Government Authorities are directly involved in this process as respective Local Authorities are producing composting in their respective areas while the WMA is engaged in mass scale composting plants.


Western Province Waste Management Authority has two mass scale composting facilities in Pohorawatta in Kalutara which have been initiated at the national level Pilisaru project and handed over to the WMA for the maintenance and operations.

"The entire capacity of the Pohorawatta facility is around 30 MT of perishable waste per day. We produce good quality MSW compost and we market that product under the brand name Mihisaru", Mannaperuma said.

The second mega scale composting facility was recently commenced its operations at Karadiyana and it has the capacity to turn 50 Metric Tons of perishable waste into compost per day.

"There is a huge advantage of having such facility at Karadiyana because the Karadiyana dumping site daily accepting around 500 MTs of MSW and placed at the open dump. We try to control environmental hazards but it is very difficult. Therefore having this composting project we are diverting 50 MTs of MSW into compost per day", he said.

Seven Local Government bodies; Moratuwa Municipal Council, Kesbewa Urban Council, Boralesgamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha, Jayawardhanapura Kotte Municipal Council, Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council, Homagama Pradeshiya Sabha and Maharagama Urban Council are benefitting from this facility.

"We have instructed the local authorities to improve source segregation as much as possible and bring only the segregated waste to the dumping facility.

"If the garbage has to be sorted at the facility itself the production cost of the compost will be increased by 60 percent. garbage into the dumping site", he said.

"We wanted to avoid that situation and we are accepting only the sorted garbage at the facility", he said. I am happy to say that out of the all these Local Authorities, Moratuwa and Sri Jayawardhanapura, Kotte Municipal Councils have made a remarkable effort to dump sorted garbage to the Karadiyana site", he said.

Today Moratuwa MC is sending around 30 MT of MSW per day to the Karadiyana site per day. Sri Jayawardhapnapura Kotte MC is sending around 5 MTs of sorted MSW per day.


These two Municipal Councils have improved the waste sorting discipline in their Municipal Council areas with a lot of difficulties despite the resistance they face from the general public during this process. But they have overcome all these resistance and improved the sorting of garbage at generation.

With the promoting of sorting of garbage among the general public the Local Authorities also benefit as they can generate recyclable waste also into a certain extent.

"Because of the sorting of garbage people also understand the value of the non-perishable waste. The people who are coming to pick non-perishable waste can easily collect those material form the houses itself enabling the households to earn an income from the non -perishable waste. By that way informal sector has been activated to collect the non-perishable waste at the generation", he said.

"Due to the support extended by these Local Authorities we have reached the maximum capacity of composting at Karadiyana facility and we are producing 50 Metric tons of compost per day from the facility at present", Mannaperuma said.

Western Provincial Council has spent around Rs.130 million to establish this facility and the benefit of this entire expenditure goes mainly for the general public who are mainly living in the Colombo district.

With the starting of the Karadiyana composting facility we have to produce 350 MTs of compost from Pohorawatta and Karadiyana facilities and distribute our Mihisaru products in the country. "To do this we have identified some agents to represent different agricultural districts through these agents and Mihisaru product go for small hold tea plantations, rubber and cinnamon plantations in the country since there is a big demand for compost from these sectors", he said.


Apart from distributing the Mihisaru product the WMA is also responsible for improving and maintaining the quality of the compost produced at Karadiyana and Pohorawatta facilities.

"Every three months we are getting an analytical report about the quality of the product ingredients of the composting that is Nitrogen, Phosperous, Potassium about the basic nutrients. Apart from that we are getting a report on the content of the humidity, the contaminations of the harmful micro-organisms into the compost. All these efforts are aimed at distributing a quality composting for the customers", he said.

Waste Management Authority is closely working with the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Jaywardenapura which is monitoring pollution of the Karadiyana site.

"We are getting information frequently from them about the pollution of environment and we are trying our best to minimise the pollution of surrounding environment. Actually we are satisfied with our system but in the future we have to totally eradicate contamination of the environment form this site", Mannaperuma said.

"Every year we are planning to expand our facilities. Right now we have 21 medium scale composting facilities and in the year 2015 we are going to have another two medium scale composting facilities by Local Authorities.

Then we will be able to achieve our targets to a certain extent within our limitations and manage the waste generation in the province until we get mega waste management facilities such as waste to energy projects to handle major portion of MSW generated in the country", he said.

"It was due to the guidance and leadership of Chief Minister Prasanna Ranathunga and Chairman of the Waste Management Authority Asela Perera we are achieving our targets in a step by step process", he said.

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