MAS Holdings, through its groundbreaking sustainability initiative ‘Ocean Plastics’, implemented in partnership with the Sri Lanka Navy, Eco Spindles and Sri Lanka Cricket, has successfully upcycled waste plastic recovered from the beaches of Sri Lanka, to produce the official jerseys to be worn by Sri Lanka’s national cricket team during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Through this alliance, MAS is contributing towards establishing a long-term solution for the pressing marine pollution issue, which threatens the coastal belt of Sri Lanka.
With one-third of the island nation’s population residing along its extensive 1,340 km coastline, Sri Lanka makes a disproportionate impact to marine pollution. In 2015 as part of the company’s sustainability mandate, MAS commenced an open dialogue with the Sri Lanka Navy, who were already clearing up to 800kg of coastal waste each week through an especially established Marine Conservation and Monitoring Unit (MCMU). This led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MAS and the Sri Lanka Navy to upgrade the existing project to a comprehensive waste collection and segregation initiative in 2016. As part of its initial involvement, MAS donated three plastic crusher machines to the Sri Lanka Navy, for installation at selected waste collection sites.
“Ocean Plastics is a project that will positively impact our coastline, marine life, and our coastal communities. The navy has a unique perspective on the impacts of plastic, and we see the potential that this project and other public-private partnerships have to preserve our nation for future generations,” Navy Commander Piyal de Silva added.
The MAS – Sri Lanka Navy partnership was followed by one of the largest coastal clean-ups across the island, with 1,500 volunteers from MAS and the Sri Lanka Navy collecting 9 tonnes of trash from 25km of coastline along 13 Sri Lankan beaches in just one weekend, setting a precedence for other corporates and volunteers to follow. Eco Spindles (formerly Beira Enviro Solutions), a subsidiary of The Beira Group and long-term recycling partner of MAS Holdings was then introduced to add value to this partnership, by salvaging and recycling PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastics.
During this rapid progress of the Ocean Plastics project, MAS was also aligning its overall operations, practices and partnerships with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This resulted in MAS recalibrating the drive for innovation to better integrate with its sustainability initiatives, and one such innovation-driven collaboration came from MAS’ partnership with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
The MAS – SLC partnership of over ten years, focused heavily on elevating performance characteristics of apparel to support the national cricket team in optimizing their on-field execution of the game. The Ocean Plastics project afforded MAS a different perspective of sustainably advancing both process and product with already mastered technologies such as moisture management, and 4 years of deep research into waste management. Eco Spindles began recycling PET plastics into polyester yarn that MAS Holdings then used in its perfected manufacturing process of performance apparel. This culminated in producing the breakthrough fabric used to produce the Sri Lanka national cricket team jerseys for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Sea turtles are an important part of Sri Lanka’s coastal ecosystem, with our shores providing abundant nesting for 5 of the 7 existing species of sea turtles in the world. Jellyfish and seaweed make up a large share of their diet, so it came as no surprise that sea turtles were falling victim to Sri Lanka’s marine pollution, vulnerable to waste at all stages of life from eggs to hatchlings, and from juvenile turtles to adults. The Ocean’s Plastic project will contribute to reducing the pollution caused by waste plastic in our coastal waters and to mark this, a design element of the jersey represents sea turtles.
It is MAS’ hope, that the Sri Lankan cricket jersey will create awareness among both locals as well as foreign tourists who visit Sri Lanka annually to witness the turtle nesting season, driving a message of conservation along with sustainable waste management through the Ocean Plastics initiative. The front of the cricket jersey displays an abstract sea turtle design that depicts the yarn spun from recycled plastics, with a blue and yellow colour combination illustrating golden sunrays striking the sea. The design element on the back of the jersey has been aesthetically inspired by the turtle shell.
“Through our groundbreaking waste-to-wearable sustainability initiative, we have been able to manufacture a revolutionary performance fabric that promises to be a two-fold solution; first as part of MAS’ progressive innovation mandate, and next as part of a high-impact eco-friendly sustainability initiative. We expect to drive this innovation forward, and are excited at the prospect of reaping greater results as our product and process evolves,” concluded Rashmika Peiris, Business Director at MAS Active.
A significant milestone in MAS’ sustainable journey, the success and potential of the Ocean Plastics initiative highlights the conglomerate’s long-term investments in sustainable manufacturing over the past three decades of operation.