From left: Plasticcycle Branding and communications Executive Haritha Walgampaya, Assistant Manager Operations Pasan Senadheera, JKH Head of Corporate Finance, Group Tax and Social Entrepreneurship Nisreen Rehmanjee, JKH President Leisure Sector Suresh Rajendra, The Pearl Protectors Coordinator Muditha Katuwawala, Maleesha Gunawardana, Emily Berlage, Rose Fernando and Amila Sumanapala
Earlier this month, Plasticcycle, the social entrepreneurship project of the John Keells Group, entered into an agreement with The Pearl Protectors, a youth-led marine conservation organisation that works to protect marine life and the ocean ecosystem in Sri Lanka, to partner on a project to remove underwater marine litter from sensitive marine ecosystems and reefs located around Sri Lanka.
This partnership for the expedition titled ‘Cleaner seabeds for Sri Lanka’ serves as another step in the journey of Plasticcycle, which was launched with the vision to be a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.
According to a survey conducted by National Aquatic Research Agency (NARA), 80% of the seabed in the Western Province of Sri Lanka has been deemed polluted. The cause of this pollution is the result of household and industrial waste being directed into the ocean with over 25% of Sri Lanka’s population living in close proximity to the coast of the island. From this waste, only 15% floats on the surface of the water, whereas the remainder sinks to the ocean floor. Globally, it is estimated that there are close to one million tons of ‘ghost gear’, such as lost or abandoned fishing gear such as nylon nets, which contributes to the plastic waste in the ocean, causing injury and death to over 550 marine species across the world. It was in light of these alarming statistics, that The Pearl Protectors launched the Cleaner seabeds for Sri Lanka expedition.
The Pearl Protectors Coordinator Muditha Katuwawala said, “The support extended through Plasticcycle comes at a crucial stage where the ocean and the marine environment are choking on plastic pollution and marine litter. With this partnership, we hope to restore much of the sensitive marine ecosystems around Sri Lanka.”
In the upcoming year, the contribution by John Keells Group’s Plasticcycle project will support underwater clean-ups in the Western, Eastern and Southern provinces of the Sri Lankan coastal belt, where plastic waste has accumulated due to poor waste management practices and ocean currents. This expedition gives the opportunity for volunteer divers from across the globe to participate and help remove plastic waste from the seabed thereby preventing plastic waste from breaking down into microplastics and harming marine life such as sea turtles, plankton and various species of fish.
“We are excited to partner with The Pearl Protectors to tackle plastic pollution in Sri Lanka’s oceans. Through this project, we hope to move our focus beyond land initiatives and work towards cleaner oceans as well. We are confident that we can make a substantial and lasting impact in the ongoing fight against plastic pollution,” said John Keells Group Head of Corporate Finance, Group Tax and Social Entrepreneurship Nisreen Rehmanjee.