As an island nation, Sri Lanka faces unique challenges in managing its waste. The country’s solid waste management (SWM) systems struggle to keep pace with growing urban populations as system funding, organization, and local government resources remain static.

Through its Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP), USAID is supporting innovative local approaches to improving SWM in cities and towns across the country.  For example, in Dehiwala, a fast-growing urban area with a quarter of a million people, MWRP helped launch five private waste collection microenterprises and provided assistance to 23 private recyclers so they can generate more income through the sale of recyclable materials. In Arugam Bay, 31 local businesses now participate in waste segregation and bring their plastic waste to a central recycling collection.

The USAID Clean Cities Blue Ocean (CCBO) program is also piloting solutions to reduce plastic waste in a number of cities across Sri Lanka: in the Colombo Metropolitan Area, Sri Lanka’s capital and largest city by population; in Galle, a city on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast working toward establishing the city as a healthy coastal city, branded as “Green City – Green Galle”; and in Jaffna District, home to the northern province’s coastal capital city and many commercial institutions, industrial operations, hotels, and government institutions.

It is estimated that in Sri Lanka only:

  • 20% of households have access to public waste collection services;
  • 47% burn their waste;
  • 23% dispose of it in their communities or natural environments; and
  • 8% practice backyard composting for organic waste.

Key Statistics
Metric tons of plastic leak into the ocean each year from Sri Lanka


Key Resources

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