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Waste Management in Sri Lanka: Challenges and Opportunities


Lal Mervin Dharmasiri

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Most of the developing countries face the problem of managing waste properly. In 2012, cities world over, generated 1.3 billion tons of solid waste per year, amounting to a footprint of 1.2 kilograms per person, per day needless to state that with rapid population growth and urbanization, the municipal waste generation is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tons (MT) by 2025. Inadvertently, with the current trends continuing, it is likely to rise from 3.5 MTs to 6 MTs per day with, each person generating around 0.64 kg waste per day in Sri Lanka with an estimated 4.8 billion MT of waste collected per annum in the country. The main objective of this study is to examine the present situation of solid waste management in Sri Lanka whilst in determining the nature and extent of the problem, thereby identifying the challenges and opportunities towards maintaining a sustainable waste management system in the country. As a result, the study has identified several challenges, of which the absence of waste segregation, poor waste collection mechanisms and the lack of public commitment on waste management, to be some of the underlying causes of the prevailing issue. Thus, the prevailing system on waste collection, transportation and disposal aspects is nevertheless believed to be an issue that needs to be resolved. This is due to the lack of education and awareness amongst the public on waste management, the lack of technical knowledge and the absence of applying 3R principles. In this context, awareness through education and a changing in attitude of the public may be suggested as precautionary methods towards maintaining a sustainable waste management system. The participation of the public is to be quoted as essential, and it should be borne in mind, that this is not a feat that can be accomplished via a limited operation, but rather one which needs to be continued and maintained through ongoing efforts, in keeping the menace at a minimum. Thus, a new model for waste management is required for collection, transportation and the disposal of waste, which should not be harmful to the society nor to the environment. The existing waste management policy of the country should be further developed by considering the concept of zero waste, alternative waste management approaches like waste to energy, sanitary landfills and the acceleration of composting methodology, thereby leading the pathway towards enhanced sustainability.
How to Cite: Dharmasiri, L.M., 2019. Waste Management in Sri Lanka: Challenges and Opportunities. Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies, 9(1), pp.72–85. DOI:
Published on 30 Dec 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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