We can provide economic incentives to address organic waste, IWMI/WLE tells Colombo business forum

Much of the developing world, including Sri Lanka, is facing an organic waste challenge, but the right economic incentives and business models can help turn waste into food and energy, WLE/IWMI told a recent business forum in Colombo.

The National Institute of Business Management (NIBM) organized a business forum on Urban Waste Management, prompting discussions to address the critical issue of organic waste in Sri Lanka. The event targeted business innovators to advance sustainable development and the establishment of solutions for this field.  IWMI’s Pay Drechsel and Miriam Otoo were key spokespersons for this event.

Following the opening remarks by Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Pay, representing IWMI and WLE, presented on ‘Urban Organic Waste in Sri Lanka’, addressing challenges as well as innovative and business savvy solutions for reducing food waste.  Sujata Gamage, of LIRNEasia, followed Pay, presenting the ‘Economic Incentives - The missing element in Solid Waste Management’.  In both, urban waste management and the private sector were strongly linked, highlighting a key takeaway from the event - there should be economic incentives to support public private partnerships within this industry. 

Photo courtesy of NIBM Digital Operations Unit

Pay, alongside Rohan Prithivaraj Perera of NIBM, co-moderated the panel discussion, attended by Dhanujie Jayapala of MAS Capital (Pvt) Ltd, Councilor Milinda Rajapaksha of Colombo Municipal Council, Nimal Prematilake of the Solid Waste management Project of the Ministry of Megapolis and  Western Development, Nihal de Saram the Director of ICCC Greenenergy (Pvt) Ltd and Severa Weerasinghe of Anantha Sustainables.  Panelists, moderators and audience shared valuable insights on the status of waste in Sri Lanka and provided their sector’s current activities and l vision for waste reduction. Pay, in agreeance with community organizer, Ms. Severa Weerasinghe, noted the importance of community awareness and community action, of working across scales and sectors to address urban waste. A good example was the collaboration between hotels and the Robin Hood Army to channel high quality food surplus to homes for elderly or children in need of food.

PC Rachel Ryan / WLE

Otoo’s closing remarks summarized the main points discussed during the forum.  "We really need to think about how to continue to catalyze markets in the waste recovery and reuse sector. There is a need for enabling environments: such as incentivizing the private sector; investments and engagement."

"Capacity building in the interface of waste and business is critical,” Otoo added, “Not only for the entities who are already engaged in but also for new entrepreneurs, for new start-ups in this sector."

Photo courtesy of Digital Operations Unit

IWMI continues to support NIBM discussions to address the critical issues of organic waste in Sri Lanka, informed by WLE-supported work on curricula for Resource Recovery and Reuse and related business models.