Case Report: Parallel Session on Waste/Recycling


by Mr. Kirthi Sanath Abeyratne, Mayor, Municipal Council of Ratnapura, Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. It possesses rich scenic beauty, an ancient cultural heritage, and greater biological diversity than any other country in area. This land was well known from ancient times. Its reputation for precious stones, spices, Elephant and scenic beauty documented in the tales of Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Chinese.

Sri Lanka's tropical location ensures uniformly high temperatures throughout the year and it's rain feed a radial network of rivers that begin in the central highlands. A large portion or surface water is used for irrigation and hydropower generation.

This paper highlights the present solid waste management problem in Ratnapura which is one of the main city in Sabaragamuwa province in Sri Lanka.



Sri Lanka can be considered to be at an environmental cross-road. Unlike most major Urban centers in the developing world, it still has the opportunity to control environmental degradation within economically feasible means. The rapid economic growth and urbanization have been accompanied by increasing environmental damage in the expanding urban and industrial area.

The Government of Sri Lanka's thrust to achieve the status of a newly Industrialized country has resulted in certain negative growth effect most notably pollution, on the verge of becoming economically counterproductive, since the remedial measures may not be economically feasible. However it is clearly evident that the increasing growth rate and rapidly spreading pattern of development are fast exceeding the assimilative capacity of natural systems.

Pollution of Sri lanka's water occurs throughout the island from domestic, industrial and agricultural sources. Problems are increasing but data on health impacts are inadequate. Ground water is providing an increasingly important source of water for irrigation and domestic use. Contamination of wells from urban discharges and agrochemicals are rising in rural and urban areas.


Historically Srilanka close proximity to the sub-continent brought it under the culture, religious, linguistic, and political influence of India.

Sri Lanka is one of the poorest and most densely populated contain in the world. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 2.9% per year from 1971-77. From 1978-1986, it grew at 5.6% per year under a more liberized economy with substantial new foreign aid and investment. Civil disturbance brought sharp declines from 1987-1989. When GDP grew at 2.2% per year. Civil unrest has hit the tourist industry hardest. Deforestation, land degradation, Soil erotion, pollution and other environmental stresses are adding new dimensions to its urbanizational problems.


In 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka enshrines the preservation and conservation of environment and natural resources in the country

In 1981 introduced Natural Environmental Act

In 1982 Creation of the Central Environmental Authority. (CEA)

In 1988 the CEA greater enforcement powers.

In 1990 a cabinet level Ministry for Environment was established.

In 1991 the Government of Sri Lanka issued its National Environmental Action Plan.

In 1993 Mandatory of development projects with a gazetted list or prescribed project requiring Environmental Impact Assessments.


To provide a systematic and integrated waste collection and disposal service in respect of solid waste originating in the city of Ratnapura.

To operate this service within resource limitations using methods which reflect the best modern practices, where these are appropriate to Sri Lanka circumstances.


Area or City - 2,174 ha

Length of Roads - 550 km

Home gardens and Agricultural purposes - 73.3% of the total land area

Residential development - 14.8%

Commercial & Others - 11.9%

The average annual mean temperature - 27.2íC

Average annual rainfall - 3990 mm

Total average generation of solid waste - 134 m3/day

population in Ratnapura MC in 1995 - 52,716


No of sections - 12

No of Collective Vehicles - 16

Total Man power used - 103



The commercial center of the town area is swept and cleaned twice daily.

Popular residential areas are served once daily.

Other areas 2-3 times a weeks.

Waste from Hospital is collected once in 2 days.


The Health department of the Council is responsible for the management of the clearing service in Ratnapura Municipal area. The Council has two Public Health Inspectors (PHI) in the cadre. Both are responsible for the management of the service. The total manpower strength & its distribution is as follows.


For the purpose of cleaning the city, the entire area is divided into 12 sections. Labourers are assigned a specific route and are expected to sweep the road and collect waste dumped on the road into small heaps. Labourers dispose of road sweeping in vacant lands or by the road sides. The tractor trailer takes 3 hrs to collect waste and 1 hour to transport same to the disposal site & travel back to the city. Two supervisors and labourers are engaged to clean the Pola area daily. Waste is deposited at a temporary collecting point.


Some form of source separation takes place at the household level. Bottles and news papers are sold to vendors calling at the house. Empty plastic cans, and tins are also collected separately by vendors. In the dry seasons road sweepers collect the dry leaves and burn these by the roadside. Burning of waste takes place at the disposal site as well.

The disposal site used by the Council at present is located about 3.5 km away from the council office. Part of the land is reserved for burial of unclaimed bodies from hospital. Effluent from septic tanks collected by the council is also disposed in to an earth pit dug at the site.


Council does not practice sanitary landfill techniques at present. Waste is disposed onto a land with very steep slope Covering of waste at the site is therefore not practicable. The Council operates another site on by the side of the bridge near the Pola. The site is located on the river bank and contaminate the river.


The Council has not attempted to produce compost from the Urban waste. It has to be investigate the following options for disposing of waste.

Landfilling - Identify most viable options

Incineration - Excluded due to the nature of waste.

Resource recycling - Private parties are encouraged


A high percentage of material is collected from the vegetable market in the form of biomass waste. This material if placed in the landfill will generate leachate resulting in environmental contamination of the site, possible extending into the groundwater.

By composting the waste from the vegetable market and other organic waste, the amount of leachate is substantially reduced and the volume of material to be buried decreased, this, giving two environmental benefits to the site

It is proposed to provide the following civil works.

  1. Part of hospital ground will be used for compost production and a hard stand provided. Four pits will be constructed to store leachate.
  2. A metalled and bitumen surfaced access road, 4m wide will be provided from Outer Circular Road at the present entrance to the compost area. A drain will be built along the road to divert stormwater away from the composting area.
  3. A shed will be constructed near the entrance to the composting area to store screen compost for maturing.
  4. Earth bunds will be constructed along the north-east and south-east boundary of the first page area to prevent entry of flood water in-to the site. Level at the top of the Earth bund will be kept 0.3 m about the maximum flood level.
  5. An office/store will be constructed next to the maturing area.
  6. An area for disposal of medical waste will be provided. A 3m wide roadway will be provided to transport material into the area.
  7. A barbed wire fence will be provided A 4m wide gate will be provided across at the approach road to the compost production site. Two gates, each 4 m wide, will be provided at the entrance to the area reserved for the disposal of medical waste and the entrance to the land fill.
  8. The drainage within the site will be improved and the surface runoff will be diverted away from the site thus reducing the amount of leachate that could form. A 300 mm thick layer of sand will be provided about the layer of clay top soil that is evident at the disposal site in order to improve drainage within the site leachat collection well with pumping arrangement will be provided to collect and treat leachate. An open masonry drain will be constructed along the western boundary to divert storm water away from the site
  9. An elevated hume pipe drain 600 mm dia. will be constructed on compacted earth bund to divert the drain water entering the site through the culvert on the main road.
  10. Planting and established about 120 tree plants of selected type will be done for aesthetic enhancement.
The benefits accruing from efficient solid waste management are improvements in public health and the environment. The benefits include: There are two components to the Solid Waste Management subproject. In addition to development of the new site which is provided as grant from the central government, there is a component for procurement of additional collection equipment and for a front-end loader to haul waste and cover material to be able to operate the site properly. Two farm tractors five new trailers (for tractors) and 25 handcarts are being purchased in addition two the front-end loader with backhoe. The city has to pay 20% of the cost as and equip contribution, take on a loan for 40% of the cost, with the balance 40% being grant from the central government.

Composting operations will be done through the privatization so this will be handled by the private sector rather than being a function of the city. It is expected that sufficient revenue will be generated from sale of compost material to be self-funding with out any incremental increased in cost to the city for composting.

The cost for site improvements is about US$ 170,000 and equipment costs of about US$ 110,000.

Ratnapura is pleased to receive a new site that is a substantial environmental improvement over present conditions and to be able to expand our collection service area at the same time.

Fujisawa/Saarbrücken/Bangkok/Gulu Municipalities/Luisville and Jefferson County/Ratnapura/Jerusalem/Portland/La Ceiba/Shenyang