World Vision Lanka celebrates women in waste management with The Coca-Cola Foundation

Joining the world in celebrating women in March, The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF), in collaboration with World Vision Lanka, acknowledged the invaluable contributions of female resource collectors to Sri Lanka’s waste management landscape. Reflecting this year’s United Nations theme, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress,” 25 outstanding female resource collectors, who demonstrated exceptional dedication to waste management, collection, and recycling within their communities, were honored and rewarded. The event took place in the presence of Hon. Ajith Mannapperuma, Member of Parliament from Gampaha District and Chair of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Sustainable Development.

World Vision Lanka’s ‘Accelerating and Strengthening the Plastic Informal Recycling Eco-system in Sri Lanka’ (ASPIRE) Programme, funded by TCCF, aims to enhance the capacity of resource collectors and increase the collection and recycling of PET plastics. The program adopts a model that focuses on enhancing livelihood development through solid waste management, strengthening the PET Plastic Waste Collection Network, and sensitizing the general public on plastic waste management processes & practices. As a result, 65 small-scale resource collectors and 15 large-scale resource collectors have been trained and empowered. More than 38% of participants were female resource collectors who have undergone training and acquired skills to become qualified Recycle Industry Assistants with National Vocational Qualification Level 4 certification in collaboration with the Waste Management Authority.

The identified 25 female resource collectors, originating from diverse backgrounds including caregivers, homemakers, and individuals engaged in various livelihoods, hailed from areas such as Ja-Ela, Wattala, Gampaha, Kalutara, etc. At the event, an open discussion provided a platform for female resource collectors to share concerns, insights, and suggestions for further improvement. Each participant was rewarded with tokens of gratitude, acknowledging their unwavering dedication and significant contributions to Sri Lanka’s waste management landscape.

Sharing his thoughts on the programme, Hon. Ajith Mannapperuma, M.P. stated, “I want to take a moment to express my deep appreciation for the incredible work being done through the ASPIRE Programme. It’s truly heartening to witness the positive impact this initiative is having on our communities, particularly in empowering our female resource collectors and promoting sustainable practices. I want to extend my warmest congratulations to the inspiring women who have excelled with the support of this project. I am fully committed to supporting and empowering you! Together, we will continue working towards a sustainable future for our country—one that not only prioritizes environmental stewardship but also recognizes and uplifts the vital role of women in shaping our society.”

Further, expressing TCCF’s commitment to inclusion and empowerment, Saadia Madsbjerg, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation stated, “ The Coca-Cola Foundation proudly celebrates 25 Sri Lankan women today—mothers, daughters, sisters, and transformative leaders—who are driving environmental conservation and serving as pillars of hope for a sustainable future. We honor their dedication, which mirrors our commitment to a sustainable Sri Lanka. Our heartfelt thanks go to World Vision Lanka for their role in executing the ASPIRE project, which has brought about tangible improvements in the lives of many.

The ASPIRE Project also aimed to enhance the acceptance and dignity of resource collectors. Through a “Saving for Transformation” model, they promoted savings and financial stability, alongside health screening programs to mitigate risks. Business management training supported their businesses’ growth, while the Journey of Transformation (JOT) program enhanced sustainability for selected families. Assets like jumbo bags and scale machines were provided to initiate PET collection, with further provisions of baling machines, crushers, and storage facilities to expand capacity. Streamlined registration systems, issuance of identity cards, and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) were part of the project. Establishing networks of drop-in facilities and plastic collection points at public places aimed to aggregate greater volumes of PET plastic.

Natasha Fernando, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) Coordinator from World Vision Lanka emphasized, “Communities are our hearts. We are committed to raising awareness on waste segregation and responsible PET plastic disposal, enhancing waste collection infrastructure, and empowering resource/resource collectors through the ASPIRE project.”

Further, at the event, Rathna Kanthi De Silva, one of the female resource collectors from Dehiyagatha, Ja-Ela shared her excitement and pride in being part of the ASPIRE project and the day’s proceedings. “I was known as a typical waste collector in our village, collecting recyclable waste from house to house. After joining the ASPIRE project, I enrolled in the Recycle Industry Assistant NVQ level 4 course. Now, I can bring the message to the community that waste is not a waste until we waste it”

Notably, World Vision Lanka and The Coca-Cola Foundation are collaborating on multiple projects focused on waste management in Sri Lanka, with innovative and impressive concepts such as resource banks gaining recognition among marginalized communities.

Hon. Ajith Mannapperuma, Member of Parliament from Gampaha District and Sectoral Oversight Committee Chair (seated 4th from left) with the 25 female resource collectors and representatives from World Vision Lanka and Coca-Cola Sri Lanka

Resource collectors sharing their experience and suggestions

A beneficiary of the ASPIRE project showcasing products created using recycled plastic to the Minister

About The Coca-Cola Foundation

The Coca-Cola Foundation’s mission is to make a difference in communities around the world where The Coca-Cola Company operates and where our employees live and work. We support transformative ideas and institutions that address complex global challenges 2 and that leave a measurable and lasting impact. Our giving is focused on sustainable access to safe water, climate resilience and disaster risk preparedness and response, circular economy, economic empowerment, and causes impacting our hometown community. Since its inception in 1984, The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded grants of over $1.5 billion in service of its mandate to strengthen communities across the world.

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