Coca‑Cola reaffirms commitment to a cleaner Sri Lanka on International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022

September 13th, 2022 
- Colombo: 
Coca‑Cola marked International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022 with a clean-up at the Crow Island Beach Park. The event was graced by the presence of US Ambassador to Sri Lanka H.E Julie J. Chung together with Pankaj Sinha, Managing Director, Coca‑Cola Sri Lanka & Maldives and Deepak Senthil Nath, Managing Director/CEO of Coca‑Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd. (CCBSL) along with many volunteers from Coca‑Cola in Sri Lanka, Clean Ocean Force (COF), and Coca‑Cola’s PET collection partners. This event also had the participation of several government organisations such as the Ministry of Local Government and Environment, Sri Lanka Environmental Police, and the Municipal Council of Colombo along with the participation of the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka (AmCham), its member companies and officials and colleagues from the US Embassy in Sri Lanka.

The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) engages people from across the globe to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways with the support of volunteer organizations and individuals. For over 35 years, 17 million volunteers have joined the International Coastal Cleanup to collect more than 350 million pounds of plastic and debris while also recording what they find and helping inform research and legislation across the world.

This year’s International Coastal Cleanup is of greater significance to Coca‑Cola as it also marks the completion of one year since the company embarked on a ground-breaking ‘Adopt a Beach’ program at the Crow Island beach in 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. This was Sri Lanka’s first-ever corporate sustainability initiative that was based on the concept of adopting a beach for a prolonged period and ensuring it would be cleaned daily. The initial success of the ‘Adopt a Beach’ program meant that it was expanded in recent months 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 have been cleaned on a daily and some bi-weekly basis to date. Since the pilot phase of the project tens of thousands of trash has been successfully removed from multiple beaches and waterways.

Coca‑Cola has a long history of working with local stakeholders and the community to spearhead cleanup initiatives. The ongoing 'Adopt A Beach' initiative highlights Coca‑Cola’s commitment towards a 'World Without Waste' which is The Coca‑Cola Company’s sustainable packaging initiative which includes a goal to collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one 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. 

Sharing her views, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, H.E Julie J. Chung stated, “I am thrilled to be a part of this initiative as we mark International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022. During my visit to Coca‑Cola's plant in Biyagama, we were shown how the operations in Sri Lanka have positively impacted the economy and communities for the past 61 years. During Coca‑Cola’s long journey here, the company has built a strong presence in the country, demonstrating the positive impact created by the multiple sustainability initiatives in Sri Lanka. By investing hundreds of millions in the future of its business, they have helped to create thousands of jobs in the local workforce to benefit the economy and have initiated several successful public and private partnerships for sustainability initiatives. Today, we have seen how true this is with the local community coming together to be a part of this cause, and how their lives have been transformed with Coca‑Cola’s support. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me and the US Embassy officials to participate in a ground-breaking volunteering initiative. This is my first beach cleanup in Sri Lanka so it’s an extra special occasion for me. We truly feel like we are a part of a bigger cause.”

Managing Director Coca‑Cola Sri Lanka & Maldives Pankaj Sinha stated, “With over 70 clean-up initiatives conducted in Sri Lanka since 2017, Coca‑Cola in Sri Lanka has led from the front in raising awareness about the need for disposing waste in a responsible manner. As we celebrate International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022, we can proudly look back at our significant contribution towards keeping litter away from Sri Lanka's beautiful beaches and waterways. We have been able to make a real difference through our sustained approach with the support of the local authorities, communities, organizations and volunteers and we are well-positioned to continue to make an impact as we all battle to keep our environment clean.”

Chairman/Founder of Clean Ocean Force Jerome Fernando commented, “Clean Ocean Force's clean-up model works towards getting the support of the local community to voluntarily work for 3-4 hours every morning as we believe that a daily mechanism is vital to keep our beaches, oceans and other waterways free from waste. With the support and funding by Coca‑Cola, our very first corporate partner, we have been able to achieve outstanding results so far. We have been able to 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 and waterways of Sri Lanka by involving local communities, drawing both volunteers and a task force to tackle the issue of plastic. Over the years, Coca‑Cola's approach of establishing partnerships with key stakeholders in order to overcome the challenge of environmental pollution across Sri Lanka has delivered outstanding results, and this is one of many.