SINGAPORE - A Singapore-based non-profit group, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has donated beach cleanup equipment worth US$180,000 (S$243,162) to the Sri Lankan government.
The donation comes in the wake of May's X-Press Pearl incident, which saw the Singapore-registered vessel catch fire and spill oil, chemicals and plastic pellets into the sea off the coast of Sri Lankan capital Colombo.
A spokesman for the Alliance said that more than 240km of shoreline has been affected by plastic waste pollution, and that the organisation felt the donation was necessary to aid in the next stage of cleanup, with most of the plastic nurdles on the surface removed and efforts now focused on retrieving pellets embedded in the sand.
The group, which was started in 2019 and counts firms across the plastics value chain among its members, donated eight machines capable of separating nurdles from sand, with each able to cover a surface area of about 4,000 sq m per hour.
The donation was coordinated by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Singapore, and a handover ceremony was held in Colombo on Monday (Aug 2).
The machines, which were delivered from Germany and require an operator, also keep those involved in cleanup efforts safe by minimising their contact with hazardous materials.
The spokesman added that there is a pressing need to retrieve as much debris as possible before the next monsoon season, which begins around September or October.
"(The monsoon) may sweep debris from the coastline back into the sea, where currents could spread the pollution to other parts of the region," said the spokesman.
President and chief executive of the Alliance, Mr Jacob Duer, said: "The successful delivery of the beach cleanup machines to support this next phase of work was a truly cross border effort with partners from Sri Lanka, Singapore and Germany.
"My sincere thanks (goes) to all parties involved, especially the Sri Lankan government, for the close partnership to make this happen. We believe this contribution can help in the important restoration of the marine ecosystem in Sri Lanka."
Separately, Singapore and Sri Lanka jointly launched commemorative stamps last Tuesday (July 27) to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations.
The stamps, designed around the theme of marine conservation, feature Sri Lanka's coral reefs and Singapore's mangroves.