June 9th, 2022 - Colombo: Coca‑Cola is celebrating World Ocean Day 2022 by extending its ground-breaking ‘Adopt a Beach’ program that was launched in October 2021 at the Crow Island beach. This was Sri Lanka’s first-ever corporate sustainability initiative that was driven with the idea of adopting a beach for a prolonged period and ensuring it would be cleaned daily, till the end of 2022.
The expansion of this unique program goes on to cover five additional polluted beaches and three lagoon boundaries along the Negombo coastline (Kammalthota, Palangathuraya, Kudapaduwa, Wellavidiya, Kuttiduwa, Munnakaraya, Mahavidiya, Kadolkale) all of which will be cleaned on a daily and some bi-weekly basis for one year. This latest phase of this program extends Coca‑Cola’s ongoing partnership with Clean Ocean Force (COF), a non-profit based in Sri Lanka working towards eliminating plastic, manmade pollutants and debris from the beaches of Sri Lanka on a daily basis with their unique private/public operating mechanism.
In keeping with this year’s United Nations World Oceans Day theme of ‘Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean’ the beach clean-up was officially kicked off with a launch event held recently at the Wellavidiya beach in Negombo with the enthusiastic participation of a large number of COF Community volunteers from Negombo, teams from Coca‑Cola, Sri Vimukthi women’s and youth association, Ministry of local government and environment, waste management authority, Negombo municipal council, MEPA, and Sri Lanka Police Environmental division.
The commencement of the Negombo beach clean-up initiative highlights Coca‑Cola’s commitment towards a World Without Waste which is The Coca‑Cola Company’s sustainable packaging initiative to collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone it sells by 2030. This waste management program is locally initiated as 'Give Back Life' and connects multiple stakeholders such as waste collectors, recyclers, local governments, civil society, youth groups and the private sector to create an efficient collection and recycling system for PET plastic bottles across the country.
Thishanthi Fernando and Ashanthi Shiromi from the on-ground support in Negombo stated that they have been a part of this cause for 1.5 years, and further commented that, “With the help of awareness programs, many people understood that this goes beyond cleaning a beach. Today, our livelihoods are positively impacted and we are more aware about recycling and repurposing plastics in our neighborhood. Thanks to Coca‑Cola and Clean Ocean Force organizations scaling this program and giving additional support, we are women in society who can make a living for themselves.”
Pankaj Sinha - Managing Director Coca‑Cola Sri Lanka & Maldives stated, “Since 2017, Coca‑Cola in Sri Lanka have carried out over 70 beach clean-up initiatives across the island and raised awareness about the need for disposing litter in a responsible manner. Following the successful pilot project at Crow Island, we are honored to extend the ‘Adopt A Beach’ program in partnership with Clean Ocean Force. We believe that this will make a difference to the beaches adopted and that this sustained approach with the support of numerous stakeholders will positively impact the society in community building and also the livelihood of its people.”
Jerome Fernando – Chairman/ Founder of Clean Ocean Force commented, “At Clean Ocean Force, we believe that a daily mechanism is vital to keep our beaches and ocean free from plastic waste. That is why our beach cleanup model focuses on getting the support of the local community to voluntarily work for 3-4 hours every morning. So far, we have had great results by collecting over 8,000 kilos of trash and Coca‑Cola stepped forward when we needed support to continue this initiative. We are happy to continue this program with Coca‑Cola and to extend their Adopt A Beach initiative to clean 8 more beaches and waterways in the Negombo area. While enhancing the cleanliness of these beaches and reducing marine pollution, this project will also provide direct livelihood for over 40 individuals from low-income communities, and over 80 others indirectly.”
The Clean Ocean Force team collaborates with organizations and Governmental bodies to clean the beaches of Sri Lanka by involving local communities, drawing both volunteers and a task force to tackle the issue of plastic.