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Monday March 4th, 2024

Beyond Industrial Waste Management: How INSEE Champions Sustainability and Inclusive Economic Growth

Sujith Gunawardhana – on managing waste, transforming communities, and nurturing sustainability.

INSEE Ecocycle, a multinational company with global expertise, is the waste management arm of INSEE Cement and has served 1000+ customers to co-process and eliminate more than 1,000,000 metric tons of industrial waste over two decades. The company’s dedication goes beyond the industrial realms to create a lasting ripple effect for a cleaner and healthier world. INSEE Ecocycle manages the disposal of up to 1500+ metric tons of sorted, non-recyclable, non-biodegradable Municipal Solid Waste each month from Sri Lankan municipalities. According to Sujith Gunawardhana, General Manager of INSEE Ecocycle, the ripple effect of the INSEE Ecocycle waste management project extends from local economic and social impacts to Sri Lanka’s sustainability goals. Through job creation, economic growth, pollution reduction, resource recovery, and industry collaboration, the project sets a precedent for responsible waste management practices with far-reaching positive impacts for the immediate community, and the broader environment.

Furthermore, INSEE Ecocycle’s initiative directly reduces waste in landfills, water bodies, and open burning, minimizing pollution. It emphasizes resource recovery from waste, extracting valuable materials and energy from non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste streams, reducing the environmental burden, and promoting industry symbiosis. Proper waste management practices also mitigate environmental pollution risks, safeguarding ecosystems, water sources, and biodiversity. It also creates jobs, fosters economic growth, improves livelihoods, and enhances living conditions by reducing pollution and associated health risks.

This initiative aligns with INSEE’s 2030 sustainability ambition, covering climate and energy, circular economy, biodiversity, and water, emphasizing zero harm and enhanced community engagement.

Gunawardhana explains that INSEE Ecocycle supports Sri Lanka’s sustainability goals by contributing to renewable energy targets through co-processing and promoting a circular economy through responsible waste disposal and resource recovery, aligning with the country’s vision for sustainable development. INSEE Ecocycle’s services comply with Sri Lanka’s waste management regulations and beyond, demonstrating a commitment to national sustainability objectives by bringing international standards to the local context and assisting corporate and waste management bodies.

Can you elaborate on the INSEE Ecocycle’s municipal solid waste management approach? 

We manage 12,000+ tons of sorted, non-recyclable, non-biodegradable Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) annually, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Our approach involves sorting non-recyclable plastic and polythene portions from MSW for co-processing in kilns at our Puttalam plant. Operating at temperatures exceeding 1450 Celsius, this thermal disposal method leaves no harmful residues or emissions.

We ensure the sorted MSW quality through stringent controls, eliminating non-conforming waste materials like food, electronics, metal, asbestos, and other harmful substances. Quality-assured material undergoes shredding at our state-of-the-art Puttalam facilities to reduce particle sizes, providing a sustainable solution.

Co-processing serves a dual purpose by disposing of waste as alternative fuel for the kiln and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal. While addressing the MSW issue, it also lowers the CO2 emissions from coal burning by substituting fossil fuel with sorted MSW waste.

Challenges persist in ensuring waste quality due to selective acceptance, requiring thorough checks for properly sorted MSW waste without non-conforming materials.

Raising awareness about source segregation is a significant challenge addressed through awareness campaigns for local authority officers and labourers, emphasizing proper MSW waste segregation. Governmental efforts aim to underscore and incentivize source segregation’s importance, aligning with the national goal of sustainable waste management and reduced fossil fuel dependence through renewable energy adoption.

Can you share some insights into your digital strategy and how it is transforming the efficiency of waste management services for corporations and councils? 

INSEE Ecocycle has developed a digital platform that revolutionizes waste management services for businesses and other stakeholders, and our innovative digital initiatives, including the waste pre-screening system, an online delivery booking system, and a waste processing tracking system backed by the newest ERP solutions, enhance accessibility and efficiency, providing unprecedented convenience.

Our standout feature is the user-friendly online delivery booking system, empowering customers to schedule waste deliveries seamlessly. This advancement simplifies and expedites the process for corporate entities and local authorities.

We’ve also integrated a GPS tracking system, offering real-time visibility and control over waste deliveries, adding transparency and accountability. Furthermore, our digital platform provides comprehensive reports and co-processing certificates after successful waste disposal, ensuring compliance and transparency.

How important are collaborations and partnerships to INSEE Ecocycle to enhance effectiveness and impact?

Effective collaboration and capacity building with local municipalities and the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry are paramount. Guided by the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) model, we ensure proper waste disposal while minimizing environmental impact via landfills or water body contaminations.

Our approach involves close cooperation with the FMCG industry and local authorities within the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) framework. Together, we manage the entire value chain, encompassing collection, transportation, preprocessing, and final disposal of post-consumer waste.

Beyond waste collection, INSEE Ecocycle offers a sustainable solution through co-processing, utilizing waste as an alternative fuel in kilns. This approach significantly reduces the environmental impact of landfills, contributing to sustainable waste management.

Additionally, we invest in knowledge and capacity development for local authority officers and waste care workers, streamlining operations, promoting source segregation, and effectively implementing sustainable post-consumer waste management solutions.

Our collaborations with FMCG companies and local authorities yield several benefits, including efficient and organized collection and disposal of post-consumer waste, reduced environmental impact of landfills, fulfilment of producer responsibilities in waste management, and promoting a circular economy.

We remain committed to further enhancing and expanding these collaborations by engaging more FMCG companies, introducing innovative approaches and technologies for efficient waste collection and disposal, and continuing knowledge-sharing initiatives that empower local authorities and waste care workers with globally recognized waste management practices.

What are your long-term goals, and how do you plan to scale operations and impact further?

We are committed to sustainable waste management and aim to process over 15,000 tons of sorted, non-recyclable, non-biodegradable MSW yearly by expanding our current volumes. This expansion involves close collaboration with local authorities across all nine provinces, broadening our geographical reach. Additionally, we now accept recyclable plastic and polythene waste, implementing an innovative resource recovery concept to enhance circularity.

To further expand impact, we will strengthen partnerships with local authorities and private sector organizations, and the introduction of the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) model will play a key role in addressing the MSW challenge in the country. Through collaboration with private and government entities, we will focus on capacity building, generating awareness, and developing infrastructure at the local authority level to provide sustainable solutions for MSW issues, establishing INSEE Ecocycle as the leader in sustainable waste management.