KMC to be a model plant under the Pilisaru Project

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) will provide pellet-making equipment to the Kurunegala Municipal Council (KMC) as part of its efforts to produce compost from municipal waste. IWMI will also work with the KMC to help improve the quality of the compost by adding local nutrients like rock phosphate and fecal matter from latrines.

The partnership with the KMC follows an agreement with Sri Lanka’s Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and the KMC last month, to work together to produce pellets from compost by combining two types of waste (co-composting) that will increase the nutrients in the soil. The CEA plans that the Kurunegala plant should become a model for the more than 100 other plants set up in the country under its Pilisaru Project. Population expansion in Sri Lankan cities has resulted in a substantial increase in solid waste that is fast becoming an environmental hazard. For instance, waterways around the country are being used as dumps for domestic and industrial waste, which has affected marine life and is linked to increasing incidence of diseases like Dengue fever.

IWMI Director General Jeremy Bird and CEA Chairman D.W. Prathapasinghe sign an agreement  to produce pellets from compost
IWMI Director General Jeremy Bird and CEA Chairman D.W. Prathapasinghe sign an agreement to produce pellets from compost

The Progress Report 2011 and Action Plan 2012 of the Ministry of Environment estimates that the country generates about 6,400 tons of waste each day, of which around 2,700 tons is collected by local authorities. Over half of this waste is immediately biodegradable. It’s this biodegradable material that can be composted into pellets for easy distribution, by the pelletizing machine.

Last year, an IWMI study in Sri Lanka found that household and commercial waste (waste from shops and markets) that could be converted to compost was of low quality. Introducing nutrients into the compost will not only improve the condition of the soil, but will also turn it into valuable fertilizer. Thus, improving compost quality would both boost farm productivity and reduce reliance on fertilizer imports. “IWMI is excited about moving our partnership with the CEA forward by working with the KMC to reduce municipal solid waste. Projects like this certainly provide opportunities for IWMI to bring to light our scientific findings which will be of considerable significance at the national level. In this instance, our research will also make the national composting industry more sustainable,” said Sudarshana Fernando, Senior Regional Researcher – Resource Recovery & Reuse.

Addressing the challenge of solid waste by making an asset out of waste is a new and important strategy that IWMI has successfully introduced into similar projects in Asia and Africa.

The CEA has been involved in composting waste in the country for several years and has set up more than 100 composting stations around the country under the Pilisaru Project (link).

Present at the signing ceremony were IWMI Director General Jeremy Bird, CEA Chairman D.W. Prathapasinghe, and a representative of the Mayor of the Kurunegala Municipal Council Anuradh Gamini Peramune. Director of the Pilisaru Project Ajith Weerasundhara, IWMI’s Theme Leader Water Quality, Health and Environment Pay Drechsel, Head, Sri Lanka Development Initiative, IWMI, Herath Manthrithilaka, IWMI’s Senior Regional Researcher – Resource Recovery & Reuse Sudarshana Fernando and several senior CEA staff also attended.