Garbage and Recycling in Sri Lanka

About a month ago, we received notice that garbage pickup was changing. We now had to separate out our compostables from our non-compostables.

Since I already composted nearly everything that could be composted, with the exception of some paper products and animal bones (chicken, fish, prawn), that meant that our weekly pickup would consist of only a very small bag (chicken, fish, prawn bones and shells). That seemed like more bother than it was worth, so I did some research to see if I could compost the chicken/fish/prawn bones and shells instead.

That was a whole other fuss, but the end result seems to be that a. bones will take longer to decompose, so might require 2-3 cycles through the composter and b. would attract flies, and therefore maggots, unless they were buried in the compost bin or covered with browns. Okey dokey, that seems simple enough, so I started composting the animal/fish stuff. Happy day and all that.

So our garbage now consisted solely of the non-compostables – plastic, glass, metal types of things – and would be picked up every other week only. No problem.

Today, the garbage guys gave us two bags (that woven plastic-like stuff that rice comes in) for separating out plastic and paper. Paper already goes into the composter, so no problem there. But now I have to separate out the plastic from the glass and metal with no indication of what happens to that. I guess that still gets garbage bagged. Or something.

As well, they’re apparently now giving away composters to anyone who wants one. But not to people who already have one. What? I could do with a second one. Let me have a second one! But no, we paid for ours, so we don’t get a free one. *grumbles*

Encouraging composting = good. Encouraging separation of plastic from paper from glass from metal = fine. Recycling – are they doing that? We still don’t know. We have no idea what the purpose behind the separation of garbage is – that information has not been forthcoming.

We have a problem here where people will dump their garbage in empty lots, sometimes burning the garbage, but mostly not. One person dumps, six more dump, and pretty quickly, it’s a neighborhood very smelly very unsightly dumping ground. To say it’s an unpleasant aspect of Sri Lankan life would be understating it.

In all fairness, there are some areas that don’t have garbage pickup. But that’s certainly not the case everywhere, and it certainly isn’t the case in our neighborhood where the empty lot next door is becoming the neighborhood garbage dump. It happens everywhere.

To make matters worse, as soon as garbage is dumped, dogs get into the garbage bags. Then cats, then cows, then anything else that’s interested, including birds. Ugh.

Here’s to hoping that free compost bins and encouraging recycling will help curb this unsightly activity.

Author: LMAshton

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