Three integrated resource recovery centres (IRRCs) operate in Matale, a medium-sized urban centre in central Sri Lanka known for its spice gardens. The IRRCs are managed by the Matale Enriched Compost a sister company affiliated with the NGO Sevanatha.
The first centre was initiated through an ESCAP project in 2006, and the second centre was set up with funds from the Government of Sri Lanka through the national Pilisaru (waste management) programme in 2010. The 2006 project was ground-breaking because the Municipal Council granted permission to collect fees from households for the service.
Now ESCAP is looking to break even more ground through its regional project, Pro-Poor and Sustainable Solid Waste Management in Secondary Cities and Small Towns. Through the project, Sevanatha, the Matale Enriched Compost project and the Matale Municipal Council, with help from Waste Concern, are planning to scale up the IRRC approach to treat most of the waste generated in Matale.
The IRRCs in Matale have successfully shown the importance of community participation and have proven that it is possible to achieve a high degree of separation of waste at the household level. After training and awareness raising, people are now separating their waste in the area covered that the IRRC services. Sevanatha has worked with the community through committee meetings and door-to-door training to promote waste separation at the source. The project also has demonstrated that the community is willing to pay collection fees when they receive a good service for their money.
The three IRRCs are located within the neighbourhood they service, which keeps transportation costs low and allows fruit and vegetable vendors to take their waste directly to the plant. The central location also has helped to better publicize the project and the merits of an IRRC – an important factor in motivating households to separate their waste.