U.S. Initiative Helps to Make Tourist Destinations Plastic-Free

The U.S. Government is helping make Arugam Bay a sustainable, green tourist destination.  Through an initiative called “Waste Less Arugam Bay,” sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the project provides free drinking water at refill stations, recycles plastic bottles, and promotes the benefits of reducing plastic waste.  In Arugam Bay alone, since April 2018, more than 230,000 bottles have been mitigated from entering landfills or the ocean.  The website www.getwater.lk details the 35 locations of water refill stations across Sri Lanka.

“Reducing plastic waste not only preserves the beauty of Sri Lanka’s oceans and waterways for future generations but protects the livelihoods of people and promotes tourism during a downturn,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz.  “It means fishermen can count on a decent catch, communities can access locally-made recycled goods and most importantly tourists can visit pristine beaches.”

Under the program, local businesses in Arugam Bay have received bins to separate plastic bottles from other waste, and each day, a vehicle collects and transports plastic bottles to a facility where they are turned into 100 percent recycled plastic polyester yarn, reducing the need for new plastic in polyester production.  Community outreach and education is key.  Visitors and locals learn about the potential harm of plastics to the environment and human health and ways they can help reduce waste.

The USAID Municipal Waste Recycling Program works with partners throughout Sri Lanka to reduce marine environment degradation caused by plastic and polythene waste.