Kalhari Group plans to set up global recycling village | Sunday Observer

Kalhari Group plans to set up global recycling village

Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa
Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa

The recycling process should be made the responsibility of the producer and awareness needs to be created with regard to disposal of plastic and rubber waste among consumers, Vice President, Plastics and Rubber Institute and Chairman/Managing Director Kalhari Group, Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa said.

He is also the Vice President of the Chartered Management Institute Sri Lanka branch of UK, an exco member of environment professionals, management committee member of National Chamber of Exports and Director of Building a Future Foundation, Baff Polymech, Sail Lanka Charter. These companies engage in training, manufacturing, exporting and chartering of yachts.

“As far as recycling is concerned, a global recycling village will be set up shortly to collect rubber and plastic waste. The supply chain should be made partners in this project and irresponsible disposal of waste could be controlled by extended producer responsibility. This is the way to go forward,” he said at an interview with Business Observer.

However, he said that recycling process cannot be done solely by the private sector and the government’s support is necessary for the successful implementation.

Excerpts:

Q. What is the current state of the rubber industry in Sri Lanka?

A. The rubber industry which the third largest single export income contributor in Sri Lanka, brings about US$ 1 billion annual foreign revenue to the country, and accounts for about 7% of the national GDP. However, the local rubber product industry has not diversified and expanded to the desired levels due to various reasons which includes, high investment, inadequate access to technology and high transformation costs.

Q. What are the steps we should immediately take to safeguard the local rubber industry?

A. As natural rubber production at present is not sufficient to meet the demand of local manufacturers, measures have been taken to import natural rubber by the large solid tyre and glove manufacturing sectors under BOI facilities. This really helps the industry.

Now it is the time for the government to focus on developing natural rubber under the campaign ‘grow more rubber’. It is also necessary to stop converting rubber growing land in to other purposes. Though, the producers try to balance the situation, we should be mindful of where we are going wrong.

Offering high prices for plantation rubber is not the ideal solution in this regard. We should concentrate on increasing the production and productivity. The average acreage under cultivation should be increased as it is at a low level at present.

The Master Plan to develop the rubber industry which has been approved by the Government of Sri Lanka is expected to stimulate the growth of the industry and support the stakeholders in developing the sector. It encompasses the total rubber industry development focused under 26 sub projects.

The Plastics and Rubber Institute of Sri Lanka[PRISL]is the apex body in Sri Lanka which provides professional education for all the industrialists and their staff members.

The education include offering courses in Certificate Level, Diploma and Graduate Level in line with NVQ requirements. These programs are conducted over the weekends.

We also carry out short Continual Professional Development programs in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. The institute has a membership of over 400 members.

In addition, the PRISL organizes, Seminars, Conferences and Workshops in collaboration with related foreign institutes. Our Annual Awards Night is scheduled to be held on November 9 2018 at the Kingsbury Hotel.

There are other initiatives to support the local industry and being the Chairman of Industrial Association of Minuwangoda Japalawatte Industrial Zone where 14 factories come under the Ministry of Industries, a lot of development work have been done by the Ministry as well as the Mahara Industrial zone where we have production units located.

Q. How do you see the industry in the next five years?

A. The rubber industry will have a significant growth in the next five years to come. However, having said that, I must stress that we need to improve the production and productivity to achieve this.

Sri Lanka was well known for rubber and had a reputation in the past. It is time we re-gain this reputation to move forward. Sri Lanka supply 30 to 40 percent of world demand in the solid tyre sector and about 6 per cent of the latex glove sector.

Sri Lanka has the potential to become a technology base for rubber growing countries. There are 13 companies which manufacture solid tyres and about six companies in the latex glove sector. There are opportunities to bring in more investors for these sectors.

This is the best opportunity to improve the entire rubber industry. The development will be a boom for local industries. We need to embrace this opportunity.

We also need to use foreign technology to bring the industry up to international standards. It is necessary to produce more value added rubber products for the export market to bring more foreign exchange to the country.

Q. Have the government initiatives been supportive of the rubber industry?

A. There has been a lot of effort to develop rubber industry by the government. The Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka (RRISL) carry out research and development related work . The dissemination of information regarding the activities of the Institute is carried out and the industrialists have access to information.

There are many facilities offered at the Finite Element Analysis and Simulation Centre (FEASC) at the Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka for rubber, plastic and allied industries.

This centre was inaugurated last week at Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka (RRISL) by the Minister of Plantation Industries as the first project implemented under Sri Lanka Rubber Master Plan (SLRMP) as a public-private partnership program of Sri Lanka Rubber Secretariat and the Ministry of Plantation industries the and the PRISL.

It provides a high end technological capacity to the entire rubber and plastics industry stakeholders at all levels. RRISL acts as the public partner while Plastics and Rubber Institute of Sri Lanka (PRISL), the proposer of the project represents the private sector. The FEA software purchased at a cost of Rs. 16 million has the proven capabilities for rubber and plastic product design and simulation.

It has three licences; i.e. two for research purposes and one for commercial purposes. This software (FEA) is not only a computer aided engineering product design application, but it is a virtual product performance evaluating software package at numerous real world environment conditions developed in various fields.

A designer could eliminate the traditional trial and error methods; instead trails could be carried out in virtual interface. This will reduce costs, material usage, time.

In addition, it has the potential to identify the failure and stress concentration points of the object while it is in service. For rubber and related products, developed advanced FEA software applications which have been exceedingly validated are now available in the institute.

These advanced software applications could be shared among the industrialists, researchers and university students in the country as well as in other countries.

This will be definitely benefited to all the parties who use this technology and it will bring about savings of at least part of the foreign exchange going out of the country to obtain such services.

This facility has been upgraded by introducing other peripheral facilities such as 3 D modeling software, 2-D drafting software and 3-D printer facility. 3-D printing facility will provide opportunity to develop prototypes at a reasonable cost within a relatively short time.

Existing advanced material characterizing equipment currently available at RRISL such as Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer, Differential scanning Calorimeter, Fourier Transmission Infrared Spectrophotometer coupled with Thermo-Gravimetric Analyzer, Rubber Process Analyzer and Tensile testing Machines could also be used to characterize material properties and to feed the inputs needed to run the FEA applications.

In addition to rubber, with the mould flow software or plastic software along with the 3-D printer available in the centre, Rubber research Institute could now serve the plastic industry too through designing, evaluating the product behavior and prototyping of the products.

Mould flow and plastic flow simulation software is mainly used to simulate injection moulding process while it also could be used to design, analyze and develop injection moulds. In addition, plastic flow software could be used to understand the limitations and possibilities in mould design while identifying the most suitable plastic flow path while optimizing runners of liquid plastics.

FEAS software could be also used as a marketing as well as a tool for guaranteed quality to promote our rubber and plastics products in the global market.

This centre is open for the rubber and plastics industrialists and to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as researchers working in the field of product design contributing to the capacity building in the sector.

Professionals in other allied sectors such as Civil Construction Engineers and Automobile Part Designers will also be benefitted by the use of these facilities. It has been decided to make the centre a roll model for effectively functioning Public-Private Partnership project in the country and to contribute to achieve the targeted fourfold increase in the export income of the rubber industry and also the income of the plastics industry. Therefore, all interested parties are invited to utilize the facilities at the centre on “Fee for Service” basis to reach the development goals of the country.

Q. How is the rubber industry tackling the labour shortage?

A. Labour shortage has been highlighted over the past years for which industrialists still have not received a proper solution. There is a new scheme implemented by Rubber and Plastic Institute under the theme ‘Earn while you Learn’.

This is a positive step towards attracting new blood to the industry. The potential candidates are absorbed in to the carder and they are provided with weekend education.

There is a huge demand for these courses and we are find it difficult to accommodate all the students as there is limited space.

There are plans to set up a Polymer University in Sri Lanka by the PRI in the near future with the possible support from the Government for finding a suitable premise .

Q. What is your company’s contribution to the rubber industry?

A. Our core business is recycling of rubber and plastic waste. We are helping the Rubber Industry to dispose their waste by way of value addition and as well as exporting the waste as raw materials to overseas. We are taking initiatives to ensure environmental sustainability.

I am the District Chairperson/Environment of Lions District 306 B2. With the assistance of the Institute of Environment Professionals, Camso Loadstar and Lions in the District, last year we carried out awareness programs for 2,000 school children in Colombo, Biyagama, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Kegalle and Anuradhapura. We also had two walking parades under theme ‘Responsible Disposal of Garbage’.

This will be carried out this year too. An MOU was signed with Hadabima Authority to plant 50,000 jak trees over a period of next two years. These plants will be planted in designated public places and these will be taken care of by the Lions Clubs in the area.

My vision is to set up a dedicated Global Recycling Village [GRV] to process post-consumer waste using our expertise to generate revenue by way of value addition and selling as raw materials to the local industry as well as to export where this could be a Public-Private Partnership.

All the companies that generate waste could become share holders of this effort and implementation of the extended producer responsibility will be the solution for the control and proper management and responsible disposal of waste .

There are hazardous waste harmful to the environment where proper disposal is necessary. We consider that e-waste should be systematically disposed in an organised manner and the country needs to acquire relevant technology.

In this regard Malaysian company that is in the extraction of heavy metals out of E waste have shown interest to invest in Sri Lanka for recycling of e-waste.

Our company won the Gold Award at the National Chamber of Exporter awards ceremony recently. We started our company in 2003 . We have been working to preserve the environment since then.

We have been applying for awards since our inception to motivate our employees. We were rewarded with a gold award in our tenth attempt.

From waste, plastics, rubber and steel dust we have expanded in to agriculture industry.

The company has a collaboration with China to process aricanuts and export to China. We will venture in to plantation sector soon and will embark on exporting value added vanilla to the global market.

Pic: Chaminda Niroshana 

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