SriLankan Airlines won the prestigious Best Aviation Sustainability Program Award, beating 118 other submissions at the recently concluded Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (SMBR) Global Aviation Awards for its groundbreaking signature upcycle project, ‘Mathaka.’ Project Mathaka was SriLankan Airlines’ answer to minimizing its contribution to landfill waste and ecological footprint by repurposing the airline’s scrap material into a variety of lifestyle products.
SriLankan partnered with House of Lonali, a Sri Lankan organization that designs and manufactures upcycled lifestyle products, to develop the exclusive range of products under the ‘Mathaka’ brand including travel bags; wallets; books; key tags; and jewellery. The items, made entirely from disposed airline uniforms, aircraft interior components and other material, will eventually be introduced for sale onboard SriLankan Airlines’ flights and through the website and retail partners of House of Lonali. All proceeds from the project will go toward funding the airline’s other corporate sustainability initiatives.
The project allows the airline to take its planet friendly corporate philosophy a step further by transforming waste into new products, thereby reducing landfill waste and environmental pollution. Moreover, effective waste management from upcycling offers a practical solution in this age of economic scarcity and shortage of raw materials by extending the use of waste material in a sustainable manner.
Additionally, SriLankan will be empowering women through its project partner, House of Lonali, which is also a social entrepreneurial venture focusing on providing employment opportunities to talented women from low-income communities. Individuals employed by House of Lonali across the production process of Project Mathaka will be empowered to showcase their talent at an international level and earn a living at the same time.
The SMRB Global Aviation Awards were given out at the 41st General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada. Established in 2016, the SMBR Global Aviation Awards aims to recognize the contributions of business organizations and individuals to the success of the global aviation industry. The evaluation process and winner selection are guided by an international team of strategic partners.
Project Mathaka is one of several initiatives taken by the Environmental Affairs and Sustainability team of the airline towards advocating for the environment in measured and impactful ways. SriLankan was the first airline in Asia to introduce ‘Planet Friendly Flights’ back in 2009 and was named the second lowest carbon emitting airline in the Asia-Pacific in 2016 by Business Traveller.
Collaboration with like-minded partners and being part of the solution is the only way to fight against climate change. As a pioneer in the region for aviation sustainability, the airline through its Environmental Affairs and Sustainability team, continuously strives to create an eco-friendly attitude among its people. The community is often integrated into its projects, and the airline is hopeful that small steps will lead to greater achievement in terms of sustainability in the long run.