Navy helps Sri Lanka reduce its plastic footprint

This article has photo gallery Published on CAPT Roger Brennan (author), CPL Kylie Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Mount Lavinia Beach, Sri Lanka

Topic(s): Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Community Engagement

Members of Joint Task Force 661 and the local community with a pile of rubbish collected at Colombo's Mount Lavinia Beach clean up day in Sri Lanka during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019. (photo: CPL Kylie GIbson)
Members of Joint Task Force 661 and the local community with a pile of rubbish collected at Colombo's Mount Lavinia Beach clean up day in Sri Lanka during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019.

Sri Lankan volunteers along with members of the Sri Lankan Navy and the Australian Defence Force recently took to Mount Lavinia Beach in Colombo to reduce its plastic footprint.

The INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019 Joint Task Group visited Sri Lanka as part Australia’s commitment to deepen engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.

“Plastic in the ocean is a big issue, it breaks down into micro plastics and is eaten by marine life which is then consumed by us,” Green Map Sri Lanka volunteer Chamila Kohona Kohona said.

“Local communities rely on fish stocks—60 per cent of the Sri Lankan diet is seafood.”

Plastic waste is a global issue affecting more than just the marine environment and the cost to the economy is visible. 

“Plastic waste washes up onto the beachfront, which in turn effects tourism,” he said.

“Everyday locals have to clean away the rubbish which keeps washing up on our shores.”

Royal Australian Navy sailor, Leading Seaman Daniel Zimmerman, has spent much of his life in and around the ocean.

“It blows me away to think how much plastic ends up in the ocean,” he said.

“Australia is also a coastal nation and every ocean nation has a big role in keeping the oceans healthy—we are the ocean’s caretakers.” 

The Australia Sri Lanka Alumni Association in conjunction with The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka organised the beach clean-up as part of INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019.

Every year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans and the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants something done about it. 

The UN Chief used his World Environment Day message last year to draw attention to plastic waste and said that by 2050 plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean.

Green Map Sri Lanka is a community based organisation that is taking up the UN challenge to rid the oceans of plastic.

Additional imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery:
http://images.defence.gov.au/S20190713.